Hello Friends, My name is Brittany Jones.
This is my story, I hope you read it. My family and I live in Bella Vista, Arkansas. We love our town and community. It has recently come to my attention that our small town has been told lies. In July 2018, a stump dump located off Trafalgar Road caught on fire. We had been told the fire wasn’t a threat and not to worry, that the air quality would be fine. I, like many in the community, went on with life not thinking about the fire nor the health impacts it would have on my family.
In early November, my 5 year old son was not able to run at PE because his chest hurt. On November 15th 2018, my son Avery Jones, who hasn’t had an issue with his asthma in three years, became ill. I didn’t think too much and figured it’s the weather. He happens to have asthma and I have to face the fact that sometimes he will just get really sick. He was diagnosed with pneumonia and we stayed 4 days in the hospital.
Avery was doing better but we noticed he had a slight cough and a runny nose. Again, thinking the weather was affecting him, we treated him with his medication and everything else we have in the past. I thought a little extra dusting and mopping would help out. On Friday, Jan the 18th, he had a doctor appointment at Children’s Northwest Hospital. The pulmonologist checked his lungs, did x-rays, did a flu swab (negative), The Dr. increased the dosage on some medicines , and even changed one of his medications to a stronger one.. We were told that Avery had pneumonia but not bad; just a little tiny spot. We were sent home with the new medication along with antibiotics and told he would be fine; just keep up with treatment. Little did I know we would land back in the ER six days later.
Avery came home Thursday, January 24th from school, walked in the door and laid down. My son is never still and always hungry. I could tell right away something was wrong; my little boy was almost unresponsive. He couldn’t hold his head up or even keep his eyes open. I knew that I needed to test his 02 stats and, sure enough, he was low sitting at 85%. I gave him a breathing treatment and watched to see if that would help. His stats did come up to 95% but he was breathing really fast and laboring to breathe. We rushed to the ER where they did an x-ray and found the pneumonia had grown bigger. Here I am, more sleepless nights in the hospital room wondering how this keeps happening and what am I am doing differently to cause Avery to stay sick.
I discussed the stump dump with the doctor and she was aware of the toxic fire. I reached out to the community of Bella Vista and have found some things out, one being my home is not safe for my son. We have had an air quality test (purple air reader) added to the house by the Stop the Smoke Coalition with they found out about Avery, and it is already showing high readings of particulate and that is 100% not okay with me. In addition to an unsafe home, the Stop the Smoke Coalition installed one at the Village Pet Hospital in Bella Vista located across the street from Avery’s school a week ago. One of the Coalition members has monitored daily readings and chronicled with meter reading pictures (are also time stamped).
The air quality at school has consistently measured out of the safe zone. He is at risk at home and school, virtually his whole world. Yesterday, I was told by the doctor that it’s not safe for Avery to be outside. He will need a mask to walk outside. Additionally, she thinks it will be better if he is either pulled out of school and transferred for the time being or to home school and not be allowed outside. That has led to another struggle. I contacted the Bella Vista school. The principal told me the air is safe around the school and I thought, “OK, sure I can send him with a mask and he just won’t wear it or not allowed outside.”
My Son is a five-year-old, high energy boy who can’t play at recess or participate in PE because the air he breathes in poisoned. This is unacceptable. I did a little research and found the air reader at the veterinarian, mentioned in above paragraph. My asthmatic son has played at school with air that has tested high levels of particulate, even in the red zone a few times. Through the Coalition, I have talked to many who usually never get sick, but say their throats are irritated. I have met people who are normally healthy but are having to take all kinds of medication. The problems have become intense since this fire. Do I know 100% the fire made, my little one sick? No, but I do know that it contributed? Definitely!
In the coming days the doctor will determine if Avery has chemical pneumonia. While I am here with Avery and waiting for answers I wonder how many people the city and POA falsely assured the residents about the quality of our air. How many more people are going to be hurt or lose their home? Why hasn’t anything actually been done and why do they keep telling us that everything is okay when it’s not. It’s costing peoples their health. I will not stay quiet and I will do everything in my power to be heard and not let this happen to another family.
Bella Vista Arkansas 72714