New York City Student Laura Dabalsa Wins National Radon Poster Contest

Contest Promotes Awareness of Radon, Importance of Testing

ALBANY, N.Y. (January 13, 2012) -- The State Health Department announced that Laura Dabalsa, a student at Booker T. Washington School in New York City, has been named the winner of the National Radon Poster Contest.

The national competition is sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Kansas State University. Laura's poster will be featured nationally as part of an ongoing campaign to promote home testing for radon.

After winning New York's Radon Poster contest, Laura's artwork was submitted to the national contest, where it was judged along with more than 1,400 other entries from other states and U.S. territories. The poster ( raises awareness of the health risks associated with radon in the home and was cited for its originality and strong visual message.

Posters created by Ye Bid Sohn and Kristen Smith, both of Our Lady of Mercy High School in Rochester, were also submitted to the national contest after earning high honors in New York's Radon Poster Contest. All three New York posters can be viewed at:

The National Radon Contest is held annually and is open to children aged 9-14 who are enrolled in a public, private, territorial, tribal, Department of Defense or home school. Members of sponsoring clubs such as 4-H, a scouting organization, or computer, art or science club can also participate.

"I want to congratulate these students on their accomplishments," said State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H. "They are helping to raise awareness of a serious health risk that can easily be addressed."

Radon is an invisible, odorless and tasteless radioactive gas that can cause serious health problems because its radioactive particles can get trapped in the lungs of people who inhale the gas. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States - and leading cause of non-smoker lung cancer - causing an estimated 20,000 deaths each year. It is estimated that about one in every 15 homes nationally will have an elevated level of radon.

Forty-one counties in New York State are considered high-risk for elevated levels of radon. Radon is formed by the natural radioactive decay of uranium in rock, soil, and water. Low levels of uranium can be widely found in the earth's crust. The presence of radon in the home occurs when radon seeps up from underlying soil into surface air that can enter a home or building.

January is National Radon Action Month. The goal is to focus attention on the problem of radon and how to detect and mitigate radon in households. In addition to displaying the New York posters on the Empire State Plaza Concourse, efforts are stepped up to encourage people to test their homes for radon. Radon can only be detected if proper testing is performed. Radon testing kits are inexpensive and easy to use. If testing detects elevated radon levels, the problems should be addressed immediately to avoid health risks.

For additional information about radon in the home, to obtain publications on how to protect you and your family from radon, or to find a radon contractor in your area, call 518 402-7556 or visit the State Health Department web site at: