Tests reveal high level of radioactive gas in public housing

Nov 25, 2019

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) — Huntsville housing officials aren’t saying what they will do about independent testing that found high levels of radioactive gas in public housing.

The testing found high levels of radon in apartments owned by the Huntsville Housing Authority, Al.com reported.

Reporters tested for cancer-causing radon last year, with the help of public housing tenants as part of a national investigation into radon in public housing.

The Huntsville Housing Authority uses federal funding to fulfill its mission to the best of its ability, its executive director, Sandra Eddlemon, said in a statement.

Eddlemon’s statement did not address the radon testing, but added that “our residents are very important to us.”

Radon seeps in through flooring. It’s the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S., killing an estimated 21,000 Americans each year.

Public housing authorities across the nation have refused to find and remove the radioactive gas from inside tenants’ homes, leaving children and other vulnerable people exposed to it, an investigation by news organizations found. They include affiliates of Alabama Media Group’s corporate parent, Advance Local, led by The Oregonian/OregonLive in Portland.

The Oregonian/OregonLive surveyed 64 large housing authorities in areas at elevated risk for radon and found that most do not look for radon.

Those that did test often did so in only a tiny percentage of their public housing units.

Some forgot about the results without making fixes. And some never told tenants that they were living with high levels of the dangerous gas.

“I would love to see it fixed,” Shineka Howard told Al.com. Her Butler Terrace apartment in west Huntsville tested three times the federal action level.

Mike Norment, the housing authority’s facilities director, declined to answer questions about the findings.