These handwritten notes were made during a 1989 meeting held between Metro Nashville Public Schools, the Metro Nashville Health Department and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to discuss radon issues inside Nashville schools.more>>
This regulation, approved by the Metro Nashville Health Department, requires the agency to oversee regular testing of Metro buildings for radon, beginning in 180 days and being repeated every five years.more>>
An exclusive NewsChannel 5 investigation discovers that Metro Nashville schools ignored warnings of a "serious radon problem" for 20 years. New tests confirm the fears. Check out the radon levels in your child's school.more>>
Metro Nashville teachers are demanding action from the school board following a NewsChannel 5 investigation. They're concerned about dangerous levels of the cancer-causing gas radon in classrooms.more>>
It's called the silent killer. Radon is a radioactive gas that reaches dangerous levels in many Tennessee homes. But incredibly many people never test for it.more>>
By Ben Hall Investigative Reporter
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Metro Health Department has launched a program to test every Metro school for radon.
That testing comes after NewsChannel 5 Investigates discovered that Metro had failed to follow a 1988 law designed to protect school children from radon, a naturally occurring gas known to cause lung cancer.
The Health Department and Metro Schools both claim they did not know the law existed.
"This is as relevant today as it was when it passed," the former councilman said as he reviewed his old bill.
But, incredibly, Williams' law is not in the Metro Code, so both the Health Department and the school system claim they did not know it existed.
After NewsChannel 5 showed local health officials the law and its own regulation, the Metro Health Department immediately began testing all schools for radon.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked the director of environmental services with the Metro Health Department, "How surprised were you when you saw this ordinance?"
"I was surprised," Brent Hager responded. "I didn't know it existed."
It's all very frustrating for Rod Williams.
"What's the point of having a legislative body if you can pass a law and nobody knows anything about it?" he asked.
Metro school officials claim they didn't know about it either.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked Metro's longtime point person for radon, "There hasn't been a test in more than 20 years. Did somebody drop the ball here?"
"You know, I can't say that they did or didn't," Thomas Hatfield answered.
Hatfield was with Metro schools when the EPA did its testing.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates showed him a document that proves Metro schools were aware of the ordinance when it passed. "Here's something from Metro schools that says they received a copy of the ordinance."
"Okay," Hatfield responded.
So how does that fall through the cracks?
"Absolutely no idea," Hatfield said.
The former councilman questions how something like this could happen.
"We are so concerned about some things, but an obvious health hazard like this we totally ignore," Williams said. "I wonder how many other laws have passed and nobody knows about them."
Metro's legal department says there are many ordinances that are passed but are not included in the Metro Code, although most deal with much more minor issues.