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New York City Student Helps EPA Educate the Public on Dangers of Radon; Wins National Radon Poster Contest

Release Date: 01/25/2012
Contact Information: Elias Rodriguez, 212-637-3664, rodriguez.elias@epa.gov

(New York, N.Y. ) What is odorless, colorless and could be a serious health problem that may be right in your home? A LaGuardia high school student, NYC public school, Laura Dabalsa knows the answer is radon. Laura used her knowledge about this important public health issue to create an educational poster that took top honors in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Kansas State University’s national Radon Poster Contest. Laura's poster, which was submitted when she was a student at the Booker T. Washington School, will be featured nationally as part of an ongoing campaign to promote home testing for radon.

Radon is a naturally-occurring gas that can seep into people’s homes through cracks in building foundations. Although testing for radon is easy and inexpensive, only one in five homeowners has actually tested his or her home for radon. Over 20,000 people die from lung cancer caused by exposure to radon; it is the leading cause of lung cancer deaths in non-smokers.

“We are very proud that the winner of this year’s EPA national Radon Poster Contest is an inspiring student artists from New York City,” said Judith A. Enck, EPA Regional Administrator. “Laura Dabalsa’s striking artwork illustrates the dangers of radon. The poster she created should encourage more people to test for the gas and take the simple steps needed to protect their health.”

Many areas of New York and New Jersey are at high risk for radon due to their geology, but any home can have a radon problem. Forty-one counties in New York State and seven in New Jersey are considered at high risk for elevated levels of radon, but moderate levels have been found throughout both states. That is why the EPA, the U.S. Surgeon General and the state of New Jersey recommend that all homeowners test for radon.

Radon can build up to unhealthy levels, especially during colder months when windows and doors are kept closed. Test kits are available in many local hardware stores, from some local health departments and the NYS Department of Health Radon Program, tel. 800-458-1158 . The NJ radon program number is 800-648-0394. If a test shows that there is a radon problem, the homeowner should contact his or her state radon office for advice on how to fix it. Most solutions are simple and relatively inexpensive. There are several proven methods to reduce radon in your home, but the one primarily used is a vent pipe system and fan, which pulls radon from beneath the house and vents it to the outside. This system does not require major changes to your home. The right system depends on the design of your home and other factors.

New York residents can obtain more information and download an application for a low-cost test kit at http://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/radiological/radon/radon.htm

New Jersey residents can obtain more information at http://www.njradon.org

To view the winning poster click on this link: http://sosradon.org/files/sosradon/poster-contest/2012-winners/NY-1st-fix.jpg

For more information about Radon Action Month: http://www.epa.gov/radon/rnactionmonth.html

      To download print, video or audio versions of free EPA Public Service Announcements, http://www.epapsa.com

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