SPRINGFIELD – Cash prizes and big rewards energized students from across the state to use their creative talents to increase public awareness about the health hazards of radioactive radon gas in homes. More than 135 YouTube videos and 450 posters were submitted to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and the American Lung Association (ALA) for consideration in the annual contests.
Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that comes from the radioactive decay of naturally occurring uranium in the soil. It can enter homes and buildings through small cracks in the foundation, sump pumps or soil in crawlspaces. Approximately 1,200 people in Illinois, and 21,000 people in the U.S., die each year from radon-related lung cancer.
"This project helps raise awareness about a very serious issue," said IEMA Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau. "Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers, but it is a health risk that can be reduced by testing your home for radon and taking steps to mitigate radon from your home, if detected."
"COVID-19 shut schools down within a week of the 2020 entry deadline. We were fortunate that students were able to get their videos submitted before schools closed," said Kallie Sinkus, Senior Manager from the American Lung Association. "The Most Views Contest took place while students were e-learning from home and performed better than last year's contest. The 2020 Most Views winner had almost 1,000 more views than the 2019 winner."
Winners in the video contest include the following:
1st place – Barrington High School ($1000 to winning student group + $300 for school)
2nd place – Mascoutah High School ($750 to winning student group + $200 for school)
3rd place – Metamora Township High School ($500 to winning student group + $100 for school)
Most Views Contest Winner – Washington Community High School with 2,207 views ($300 to winning student group)
Honorable Mention: $250 prize will be awarded for each of the following group entries.
"This Just In, Radon" by Granite City High School
"2020 Radon Project" by Washington Community High School
"The Silent Killer" by Wheaton Academy
"Radon, A Killer in Disguise" by Wheaton Academy
"Make the Difference – Radon PSA 2020" by John Hancock Prep
"Your in Danger from Radon" by Wheaton Academy
"Watch Out for Radon!" by Edwardsville High School
In addition to cash prizes for the winning entries, the overall winning video will be shown in movie theaters throughout the state through Thursday, September 17. This big prize is made available thanks to a partnership with National CineMedia (NCM) America's Movie Network.
"There is no bigger showcase than the big screen to raise awareness and get this important message out to the people of Illinois," said Stacie Tursi, Senior Vice President of Local & Digital Sales with National CineMedia. "Movie theaters are a central place in the community where people gather together, so it's wonderful to be able to showcase the creative talent of these young filmmakers and help their good work reach as many as people as possible to potentially save lives."
Poster contest winners and their prizes include:
1st place – "Make Sick Homes Healthy, Check for Radon Today"
Sesser-Valier School (Sesser, IL) $200
2nd place – "Protect Your Nest and Take a Radon Test"
Willows Academy (Des Plaines, IL) $150
3rd place – "The Silent Killer, Radon"
Aptakisic Junior High School (Buffalo Grove, IL) $100
The first place poster will compete against posters from across the country in the 2020 National Radon Poster Contest sponsored by the Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors.
The prize money for all winners was provided by the ALA. To view the winning entries visit the ALA-IL YouTube page, https://www.youtube.com/user/ALAUMEnvironment/videos.
To learn more about radon risks and mitigation techniques, visit www.iema.illinois.gov/radon.