Update on the Asbestos at Alexandria Housing Complex

Earlier this month we reported on the Alexandria, VA housing complex that experienced an asbestos scare so extreme that the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) issued a rare stop work order on construction renovations being conducted at the housing complex. However, earlier this week a study by another federal agency was recently released and reported that the asbestos exposure level was not high enough to currently warrant such a stop work order.

The Asbestos Situation at Hunting Point

Asbestos at the Hunting Point apartment became an issue after the building was sold to a new owner who began renovations on the property. After the renovations began last summer complaints emerged that asbestos was present. Tenants of the Hunting Point apartment submitted numerous unresolved complaints about the asbestos issue at the apartment complex. However, these complaints, which were sent to the city, landlord, and the state, all went unanswered. Luckily, a proactive tenant had the soundness of mind to report the asbestos situation to the EPA who dispatched a team of skilled investigators to inspect the building. The investigators discovered that asbestos had been found in the building’s windows, doors and floors. As a result the EPA submitted a binding stop work order on the building renovations.

Findings by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry

Following the inspection by the EPA, dust and air samples collected over a 5-month period were given to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (“ATSDR”). The ATSDR is a federal public health group and part of the U.S. Center for Disease Control. Following its study of the samples provided by the EPA, the ATSDR submitted a letter to the EPA of its findings. Within the letter the ATSDR came to the conclusion that the amount of airborne asbestos at the Hunting Point apartments was not enough to harm those who breathed the substance for weeks or months. However, the agency declined to make long-term predictions about the long term harmfulness of the asbestos in the air because they did not have enough data to properly make such determinations.

Response to the ATSDR Letter

Mary Hesdorffer, an Alexandria resident, nurse practitioner and the executive director of the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, a nonprofit based in Alexandria, believes that tenants of the housing complex should take the ATSDR letter with a grain of salt. She believes the suggestion that the asbestos level at the Hunting Complex is safe for weeks and months of exposure is an imprudent conclusion because there is no generally accepted amount of asbestos exposure that can result in mesothelioma and other asbestos related health issues. Hersdorffer, after reviewing the letter stated that:

“There may be people who are more sensitive than others. We’re seeing younger and younger children with mesothelioma….There is just no [generally accepted] safe level.”

Her advice to Hunting Point tenants is to to have their medical records updated to reflect the fact they have been exposed to asbestos. This is because the symptoms of mesothelioma and other asbestos related health issues can take years to present symptoms. Hersdorffer also suggested that additional precautions should probably be taken for those with a history of cancer in their family.

Concerned About Asbestos?

If you have been exposed to asbestos, you may be at risk of developing serious health conditions such as mesothelioma or lung cancer.  Contact an experienced asbestos attorney today to discuss your options.


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