People who live in the North Little Rock, Arkansas neighborhood known as Dixie have seen it firsthand. They’ve watched friends, neighbors, and relatives develop serious respiratory problems, plagued with breathing difficulties, persistent chest pains, coughing and wheezing, and other symptoms that indicate serious health problems. They’ve even seen some of those same individuals pass away from their illnesses. Now, those residents want the EPA to test all every property in Dixie for the presence of asbestos.
The overwhelming concern about the presence of the mineral and about asbestos exposure in general comes several months after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency removed layers of asbestos-contaminated soil from Connelly Park, a popular neighborhood green space where residents of all ages gather to play, walk, jog, and enjoy the outdoors. At the same time, the EPA tested 2o surrounding properties for asbestos. None of those samples tested positive for the carcinogen, but neighbors like Donnell Flowers aren’t convinced that the problem is solved, notes a report on Fox16 News.
“We’re the ones that lost loved ones,” said Flowers. “We’re the ones that lost friends. We’re the ones that lost members out of this community.”
Flowers stresses that he believes the EPA only tested part of the problem. He and others believe that they need to test all the properties in Dixie. The EPA, however disagrees.
EPA spokesperson Jennah Durant said, “There is no evidence to show more testing is necessary, and as of right now there is no need to sample any more dirt in the Dixie area.”
Flowers says they will take their plea to a higher level if that’s what it takes to get the attention of the EPA and to insure that their North Little Rock, Arkansas neighborhood once again becomes a safe place to live. He also notes that he and others are gathering support for the formation of a class action lawsuit against the EPA, claiming that they were wrong in closing the investigation without testing everyone.
Flowers and many of his neighbors believe that the presence of asbestos, which can cause mesothelioma cancer, has done long-term damage to the tight-knit neighborhood, affecting property values and making it an undesirable place to live.