HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - The Huntsville Housing Authority failed to tell tenants about high levels of radioactive gas found in 60 public housing units at one of its properties. The authority has known about it since last fall.
WHNT's news partners at The Huntsville Times and AL.com revealed this revelation in a recent investigative story.
WHNT News 19 followed up on the startling report to see what the housing authority is doing about the problem.
Residents at Butler Terrace Addition were left in the dark about high levels of radioactive gas in their apartments. Our news partner, AL.com, received documents from the Huntsville Housing Authority. The documents showed high levels of radon at Butler Terrace Addition in 66 of 108 tests.
On Monday, the Huntsville Housing Authority held a public board meeting. The radon issue wasn't on the agenda, but Executive Director Sandra Eddlemon acknowledged there's a problem.
"One of the things that's been called to attention recently is the radon issue," said Eddlemon. "We are working with that. We are working with our residents and our residents are very important to us."
The American Lung Association says radon exposure is the second-leading cause of lung cancer.
It's a natural gas found in soil. You can't see or smell it, but it can seep through small cracks inside homes.
According to the American Lung Association, "One out of every 15 homes in the U.S. is subject to radon exposure. Exposure to radon combined with cigarette smoking seriously increases your lung cancer risk."
What the housing authority is working on specifically to fix the problem isn't publicly known.
"We care about their health and safety," said Eddlemon. "And we're doing everything we can to give them a safe living environment. So that's all we have to say about it right now, but we want you to know we are working on this. We have been working on this ever since we were notified about it."
The investigative report said Huntsville hadn't reportedly done radon testing in a long time.
"The results of Huntsville’s testing validated findings from an investigation by The Oregonian/OregonLive and AL.com, which exposed how federal and local housing officials nationally have failed to protect low-income tenants. The findings included independent testing by reporters showing high levels of radon in apartments at the complex that the housing authority hadn’t tested since the 1990s," reported AL.com.
Officials haven't said much about the radon issue since the report got published. The Huntsville Housing Authority wasn't prepared to provide a comment to WHNT News 19 at this time. Officials said we should hear from them soon.
You can read the full investigative report from our news partners at The Huntsville Times and AL.com here.