RosslynVA Pollution Awareness

I live right in the middle of this construction frenzy, and let me tell you it is dusty and noisy. And it’s not just a little inconvenience. It’s not just about “dust” or noise. In recent years Arlington,VA has undergone a major urban transformation, but there is a silence about the reality of what it means to live next to major development that involves construction and demolition.

The motive for initiating this campaign started when a quest for simple answers about air quality in my apartment was met with evasive responses. … If I could not get clear answers, perhaps others had similar questions about air quality because of construction work. What is all this dust, and is it toxic?

This is a wake-up call. We need transparency now.

We need immediate action. Your health, my health, our well-being isn’t a game. Time to flip the script. Let’s force these big names to come clean. Literally.

Dirty air filters, only 30 days old instead of the advertised 90, …raised questions about the air quality.

I live in a building managed by #JBG Smith. These folks are major league and they are behind most of the developments. With their latest acquisition of Clark Construction, their involvement in the transformation of Arlington is substantial.

In the end of winter of 2022/23 I began to struggle with severe difficulty breathing, surpassing the discomfort typically associated with a “bad air day” or allergies and eventually, a few months later, I ended up in the emergency room. I began to suspect that construction dust was infiltrating my apartment, despite my efforts to keep my windows tightly shut when I discovered that my HVAC and vents filters resembled a nightmare straight out of a chimney sweep’s tale.

Concerned about my health, I reached out to the manager of my building and requested a comprehensive air quality test. However, instead of addressing my concerns, I was met with lies and diversions, with the manager intentionally delaying and avoiding taking action. It seemed that they were waiting for the completion of the RCA building demolition, which was producing a significant amount of dust at the time.

The reluctance to face the issues directly led me to believe that my concerns about air quality might indeed have had validity. They even tried to deflect their responsibility and pointed fingers at Arlington County. While external factors may have existed, they were never part of my complaint, and I made it clear that it was JBG Smith’s responsibility as my property manager to ensure the air quality in my living space met the appropriate standards. They should have focused on addressing my specific concerns without deflecting responsibility or suggesting unrelated avenues of resolution.

After 9 months of emails, they never truly addressed the core of my concerns or resolved the issue, which was the underlying cause of the air filters’ condition. Isn’t that a red flag the size of a billboard? Why would such a minor issue require an extensive exchange of emails unless there’s something more, something they’re not revealing? By mid-July, my patience had worn thin, and I demanded an immediate plan of action, but still, there was no response.

Their only solution was an offer to break my lease contract without penalty. It was a clear attempt at sweet-talking me into walking away. Nice try, but that move just blew the lid off your cover-up! I never once requested to leave. This wasn’t a genuine solution, it was nothing more than a diversion, a slick attempt to sweep the real issue under the rug… as if avoiding the problem would somehow make it disappear. Why should I be the one forced out?

Despite JBG Smith’s public commitment to owning and operating green and healthy buildings, as well as their emphasis on prioritizing the long-term health and well-being of their employees, tenants, and residents, their actions in this situation failed to live up to these promises. Instead of addressing the air filter issue promptly and effectively, they neglected their responsibility, leaving me to live in a situation that seriously threatened my health. This disregard for their tenants’ well-being undermines the trust and confidence that should be placed in a company that claims to prioritize the health and safety of those they serve.

What are you so afraid of, JBG Smith? …Why are you trying to chloroformed me? What are they hiding and why?

I took matters into my own hands and reached out to Arlington County, only to learn that the current system lacks regulations to protect residents from the effects of construction pollution and ultimately the responsibility falls on us.

This redevelopment isn’t just a few buildings going up. It’s an urban upheaval spanning decades, with risks that are still largely unquantified. Our homes have become test sites for potential long-term exposure to hazardous materials.

#JBG Smith and the City of Arlington know the risks,…the dust, the noise, the potential health hazards of demolition and construction. Yet, there’s a deafening silence on their part. No disclosures, no warnings, nothing. They conveniently choose not to disclose anything. 


While corporations look at numbers, the county has the responsibility of looking at faces, names, and stories. With Arlington County not addressing the issue directly, and instead steering towards external resources, feels like a sidestepping of this core responsibility. One can’t help but wonder… Is this a tacit acknowledgment of the underlying concerns, yet a hesitation to confront them?

I genuinely empathize with the burden the county carries, and it’s not lost on me that these are complex challenges. However time is indeed of the essence. Each day that passes without definitive action is another day residents grapple with the consequences. As the county navigates this intricate landscape, remember that what’s at stake isn’t just the future of buildings and infrastructures, but the well-being and quality of life of every individual living in their shadow. While corporations might shirk from facing the human side of these decisions, I earnestly hope the county won’t.

This is not a trivial campaign, it’s a necessity, given the scale and duration of the construction projects and their potential impact on everyone in Arlington.


It’s time to step forward. This is about more than just one person’s struggle. It’s about our community. It’s about holding those responsible accountable and ensuring that our homes are safe, healthy places to live. The truth needs to come out, and it starts with us.
Monica




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