Denver Housing Authority To Begin Radon Testing All Of Its Public Housing Complexes

More than a year after CBS4 Investigates found dangerous radon levels in some public housing units, DHA says it will begin a year-long effort to test all of its complexes for the toxic gas.

Video Transcript

- The Denver housing authority says it will begin doing radon testing of its own this month, following a CBS 4 News investigation. A year ago, we found dangerously high radon levels in some Denver public housing units. CBS 4 investigator Katie Weis has been following this issue for more than a year for us. And Katie, what did the DHA director tell you?

KATI WEIS: Well, Karen, the DHA director says they've set aside $250,000 to test all of their public housing complexes for radon, including this one here in the Valverde neighborhood. One year ago, we found radon levels above the EPA'S safe limit in the Denver Housing Authority's Columbine homes complex.

[SPEAKING NON-ENGLISH]

- It's very dangerous, but I don't have too many options at my age.

KATI WEIS: Radon is an odorless, naturally occurring gas, that when trapped inside a home, can cause lung cancer to those who breathe it over long periods of time. Residents like Maria Chacon, who lived in her unit for 12 years, were worried.

[SPEAKING NON-ENGLISH]

- The enemy is what's coming out from the earth.

- Based upon the results that we're going to find.

KATI WEIS: Now DHA's Director David Nisivoccia tells me a third-party environmental firm has written up these procedures to give them a roadmap to properly test all of DHA's complexes.

DAVID NISIVOCCIA: The plan is to start with community spaces, because, obviously, they're usually on ground floor levels, and look at garages as well. Beyond that and when we're done with that, then we'll transition into our high rises. And then we move into our rural homes and then into our dispersed sites, which are typically single-family homes.

KATI WEIS: How will your agency make residents aware of what results are found?

DAVID NISIVOCCIA: The majority of our developments are neighborhoods that have resident council boards. So we'll interact with the resident council board and share the results with them. And then they advocate for the rest of their client base there. But additionally, we'll have a copy of the results in the management office at that property.

KATI WEIS: If high levels are found, DHA will take proper mitigation actions.

DAVID NISIVOCCIA: I would just then rearrange some of the other money that we need for mitigation. And we'll seek-- and one of the things I want to do is seek more additional funding from HUD.

KATI WEIS: The standard operating procedures were delayed, due to COVID, leaving some residents at risk for radon exposure throughout the pandemic. Are you concerned that there's been this delay and that during this time, when you haven't been able to move as quickly, some of your residents may have been exposed to concerning levels?

DAVID NISIVOCCIA: I would say there's always concern regarding any health issue. But I think people would understand, with COVID-19, the priority was to ensuring that people stayed in their house, and they weren't homeless.

KATI WEIS: Now, I'm told that the testing process will last throughout the remainder of the year. We'll be sure to stay on top of it and let you know what DHA finds. Live in Denver, I'm Katie Weis, covering Colorado First.