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Radon education generates student creativity

By Sharon Omahen
University of Georgia

Georgia students can win a trip to Washington, D.C., and help spread the word about the dangers of radon gas through a poster contest offered by the National Safety Council.

Each year the NSC presents the National Radon Poster Contest in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Raising national awareness

"The goal of the contest is to raise awareness about the harmful effects of elevated levels of indoor radon gas," said Ginger Bennett, a University of Georgia Cooperative Extension radon educator. "The poster contest is also a way to increase the number of homes tested for radon."

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States and the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers. It is an invisible, odorless, radioactive gas that occurs naturally in rock and soil. It enters homes through cracks and other openings in home foundations.

Radon kills more than 600 Georgians each year. The state is home to the 2004 and 2005 national contest winners. In 2004, Marki Clavert of Loganville, Ga., was the national winner in the computer-generated category. She was then a sixth-grade 4-H'er.

In 2005, Clavert's younger sister Abbi was named the national winner in the same category. She was a fourth grader at the time.

Local, state winners, too

The contest is open to Georgia students ages 9 to 14.

Before the national winners can be selected, first- and second-place local and county winners are selected in two categories, computer-generated and hand-drawn. Two state winners and four runners-up receive trophies and gift card prizes at an awards ceremony presented by the Georgia Radon Education Program.

If a county doesn't have a contest, a student may submit a poster directly to the state for judging. The top three state posters in each category are submitted for judging on the national level. The national winners, their parents and sponsoring adults receive an all-expense-paid trip to the awards ceremony in the nation's capital.

The winning entries are printed on posters, bookmarks and book covers distributed nationally in Radon Action Month each January.

The deadline for the state contest is Oct. 9. For more information on the contest and complete details on how to enter, see the NSC Web site at www.nsc.org/issues/radon. Local and state contest rules can be found on the Web at www.fcs.uga.edu/ext/housing/radon.php.

(Sharon Omahen is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

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