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Madison County Health Department takes action

Supervisor Rocco J. DiVeronica (Lenox), chairman of the Madison County Board of Supervisors, declared January "National Radon Action Month" in Madison County at a special proclamation ceremony Jan. 9.

"Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers," said Madison County Health Department Public Health Educator Virginia Zombek at the Jan. 4 meeting of the Madison County Board of Supervisors. "It is invisible and odorless, and there are more deaths from radon than car accidents and plane crashes. Our county is working diligently to reduce risks from radon."

Two students from Otto Shortell Middle School in the Oneida City School District took first- and third-place honors in a national radon poster contest initiated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to raise awareness of the problem.

Samantha Savage of Canastota took first place in the computer-generated artwork division. Jaclyn Cavanagh of Oneida earned third-place honors for her entry in the hand-drawn artwork category. The pair earned their prizes for work entered at the state level of the contest.

OSMS science teacher Wanda Zinski invited a representative from the Health Department to visit her classes and speak about radon issues in early October. As part of the educational effort in Zinski's class, students were encouraged to participate in the contest, and 22 of them accepted the challenge.

The national contest winner, her parents and teacher earned an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to take part in the National Radon Action Month declaration ceremony Jan. 16.

Zombek said the Madison County Health Department is working with the EPA in a nationwide campaign to educate Americans about the dangers of radon exposure and to encourage them to take action to protect their homes and families. She said the Health Department is conducting several initiatives throughout the county during National Radon Action Month.

Radon is present at elevated levels in about 37 percent of Madison County homes (about one in every three), Zombek said.

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