LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA)- In Florida, phosphate mining is lucrative and controversial.

It tears up the earth, bringing radioactive minerals buried beneath to the surface.

Thousands of people live in homes in Lakeland’s Grasslands and Oakbridge communities, on what was once the Poseidon mine.

A lawsuit filed in 2017, claims the Drummond Company, which owned the mine, reclaimed it, then despite high radiation levels, built on it.

“This Gamma radiation affects the way cells change. And when you affect the way cells change, it causes cancer,” attorney Mark Lanier pointed out.

Lanier heads up the law firm suing Drummond.

Following our reports about the lawsuit, the Florida Department of Health tested homes in Grasslands and Oakbridge for radiation.

According to Mark Lanier, DOH inspectors used the wrong type of detector.

“In this situation, the kind of radiation that needs to be detected is excluded by those machines, so the machines can find bomb radiation instead of the radiation that’s doing the damage to these communities,” Lanier added.

A Department of Health document obtained by 8 On Your Side shows before the first test was done by the state on the homes in question, DOH instructed inspectors to give homeowners a generic briefing about what they found but assure them there is no reason to be concerned.

“If the state’s not using the right test to determine whether or not the radiation is there, the state is misleading its citizens about the safety and the health hazards,” Lanier explained.

DOH has not responded to our request for a comment.

If you know of something that you think should be investigated call our 8 On Your Side Helpline at 1 800 338-0808.

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