CIRS Mold Toxicity Treatment in Lake Barcroft, VA
Experiencing mold toxicity is a terrifying thought for most people. Although it may seem like an interesting concept for a medical drama, nobody wants to experience the effects of mold exposure firsthand.
Mold is a fungus that thrives in wet environments, such as under tiles, wood floors, and ceilings, pipes, and roofs. While several types of mold exist, some are more hazardous than others, and some individuals may be allergic or sensitive to mycotoxins, the toxins that mold naturally produces. Exposure to excessive amounts of mold, or the types of mold that trigger health problems, can lead to mold toxicity and even CIRS - Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome. This acute and chronic systemic inflammatory response syndrome is typically acquired after exposure to mold or other producers of biotoxins, usually from damaged water buildings.
If you believe that you're suffering from mold toxicity or mold illness, it can seem like the world is folding in on you. No matter what you do, your symptoms persist, lowering your quality of life and eliminating your peace of mind. Fortunately, there is reason to be hopeful: Proactive Wellness Centers now offers a research-backed, highly effective mold illness poisoning treatment in Lake Barcroft, VA for men and women just like yourself and your children as well if they have been impacted.
CIRS and Mold Toxicity
CIRS and mold illness are on the rise, and accurate diagnosis of the issue plays a major role in this trend. Thanks to Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker, there is a huge body of evidence that covers diagnosing and treating patients with CIRS. Dr. Lawson is one of less than 30 practitioners in the United States that are fully certified by Dr. Shoemaker for diagnosing and treating CIRS. The body of evidence by Shoemaker and many associates is the largest body of scientific evidence that is published in major medical journals. Around 80% of CIRS/Mold cases are caused by indoor air contaminated with mold toxins and other triggers. However, it's important to note that CIRS can also be caused by biotoxin producers such as cyanobacteria and a marine dinoflagellate that produces the Ciguatera toxin found in certain types of fish.
When mold or biotoxins are not processed effectively, a series of biochemical changes known as the Biotoxin Pathway occur. Genetic studies have revealed that approximately 24% of individuals have a genetic makeup that makes them susceptible to developing an illness related to mold or biotoxins. The remaining 76% of the population can typically eliminate these toxins from their system and avoid the development of the Biotoxin Pathway that can lead to various diseases.
CIRS and Mold Poisoning Misdiagnosis
CIRS and mold exposure symptoms overlap with many other chronic illnesses, which makes diagnosis challenging and can even lead to missed diagnosis of CIRS. Based on research from Proactive Wellness Centers, CIRS is frequently misdiagnosed. Some of the most common misdiagnoses include:
- Chronic Pain Syndrome
- Parkinson's Disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Lyme disease, in particular, is often misdiagnosed. We have treated a number of patients whose symptoms were in line with Lyme disease. Fortunately, we were able to confirm the presence of CIRS and mold and were able to successfully help those patients using CIRS treatment in Lake Barcroft, VA.
Note that many of these patients have CIRS and Lyme disease and in that case, it is necessary to treat both in order for full recovery. Treating one or the other will invariably leave the patient with debilitating symptoms and even more frustration with their medical team. At Proactive Wellness Centers, we are skilled In diagnosing and treating both.
CIRS and Mold Poisoning Symptoms
If you're reading this page, chances are you're concerned that you might have CIRS or some form of mold poisoning. You may be wondering what you have - is it CIRS, or is it something else like Lyme disease? We can't provide the answer to that question without consultation and testing at our wellness center in Virginia. However, there are common symptoms of CIRS and mold toxicity you should know.
Some of the most common symptoms of CIRS include:
- Decreased Word Finding
- Difficulty Concentrating
- Morning Stiffness
- Excessive Thirst
- Night Sweats
- Frequent Urination
- Mood Swings
Proactive Wellness Centers'
Tools for Diagnosing Mold Sickness and CIRS
Identifying and confirming if a patient is being impacted by CIRS and identifying the cause and source of the biotoxin are the two main steps in diagnosing CIRS and Mold Exposure. To diagnose CIRS and Mold Exposure, the following diagnostic tools are commonly used:
Visual Contrast Sensitivity Test
A positive result from this screening test tells us with a high probability that you have a biotoxin illness
These may include MSH, TGF Beta 1, C43a, MMP9, ADH and Osmolality, ACTH and Cortisol, Leptin, and other tests as needed based on individual presentation.
MRI Scanning with NeuroQuant Technology
This software-based diagnostic tool helps us distinguish CIRS from Lyme disease by measuring the brain volumes of specific brain structures. Studies have identified a unique signature in CIRS patients that sets them apart from Lyme patients, and this test can reveal that signature.
"GENIE" (Genomic expression: Inflammation Explained)!
After ten years in concept and three years in development and validation, the application of transcriptomics to confirm hypometabolism is available. Based on the work of James Ryan, PhD, for the first time we can use differential gene expression to tell us about abnormalities in gene functioning in illnesses characterized by chronic fatigue.
Understanding the gene expression lets us use targeted therapies based on our published, peer-reviewed work.
Contact our office to learn more about how genomics testing helps diagnose CIRS and mold poisoning.
Environment Relative Moldiness Index (ERMI):
This is a test of your home or office that you suspect to be the source of the mold exposure. It involves a specialized DNA-based technique utilized to measure the number of mold species present in a given environment, such as a residence or workplace. This methodology is employed to identify the source of biotoxins that the individual is being exposed to, as well as to determine the type and severity of mold species present in the environment.
The advantage of ERMI over other forms of testing is that ERMI provides us with an easy to understand overall "score" that determines mold burden in the home. When we combine this with Shoemaker's research, we can then determine if the mold burden in the home/office is too much for you.
To learn more about the debilitating symptoms of mold sickness and to find out whether you have CIRS or something else, contact Proactive Wellness Centers. Our team of medical professionals is here to help you every step of the way.
To learn more about the debilitating symptoms of mold sickness and to find out whether you have CIRS or something else, contact Proactive Wellness Centers. Our team of medical professionals is here to help you every step of the way.
Hope for Patients with CIRS: Proactive Wellness Centers' Mold Illness Treatment in Lake Barcroft, VA
Our approach to treating CIRS utilizes integrative and functional medicine, The Shoemaker Protocol along with the latest evidence-based approaches to treating mold illness and the related secondary issues that it causes. We begin by utilizing advanced diagnostics to confirm the presence of the condition and identify the specific environment causing continued exposure to biotoxins. Next, we take a stepwise approach to halt the progression of the disease, eliminate biotoxins from the body, and reverse any damage to cellular structures. Our goal is to help patients achieve a full recovery.
To do this, we not only have to identify the primary condition like CIRS or Lyme disease, but we then have to continue looking to see if you have any of the common secondary conditions like reactivated EBV, Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS), and others. Once we understand the totally of your condition, then we can implement a treatment plan tailored for you. Yes, it will leverage the Shoemaker protocol, but we have found that we have to extend the protocol to cover the secondary issues that we uncover.
The steps we follow to reach that goal include:
- TGF Beta 1
- Androgen Imbalance
- Black Pepper
Fibromyalgia, Lupus, Chronic Fatigue, and Chronic Pain Syndrome are examples of illnesses that are often diagnosed without such confirmatory tests. If you are experiencing unexplained health issues or have been exposed to water-damaged buildings, it is possible that you are suffering from CIRS or a mold illness.
The good news is that we can diagnose and address this disease with a mold illness treatment program in Lake Barcroft, VA tailored to your body and your symptoms. That way, we can help you regain your health as soon as possible.
Be Wary of These
5 Symptoms of Mold Exposure
Mold spores can easily be brought into your home on your shoes or clothing or through open windows or doors. If these spores can find a warm, damp, humid environment, they can begin to multiply. Soon, your home can be filled with toxic mold. If you think mold has invaded your home or another environment, like in an office or warehouse, it's important for you to know about the symptoms.
Unfortunately, diagnosing mold issues can be exceptionally difficult. But why? The answer can be quite frustrating.
Understanding the Difficulty of Diagnosing Mold Symptoms
Many doctors fail to recognize the impact of mycotoxins emitted by certain indoor mold species, which can lead to chemical and inflammatory reactions. While conventional medicine acknowledges that mold can cause allergies, it may overlook this crucial aspect of mold-related health issues.
This can happen for several reasons:
- Standardized treatment protocols for mold toxicity are offered mostly by Functional/Integrative physicians as the conventional physicians are not on board despite over 20 years of published research. Due to this issue, patients spend precious months/years going from doctor to doctor in the conventional channel with no answers.
- Though ERMI testing has been accepted in the integrative/functional medical community, there isn't a "gold standard" in mold testing that is universally accepted.
- Mold symptoms can manifest in vastly different ways depending on the patient.
After understanding the points above, it's no wonder that mold poisoning can be hard to diagnose. Fortunately, integrative and functional holistic medicine providers and wellness centers like Proactive Wellness are flipping the proverbial script. Unlike traditional clinics, our team considers environmental factors that can affect patient health and has advanced training to provide mold poisoning treatment in Lake Barcroft, VA.
Now that you understand why mold symptoms are so hard to diagnose let's take a closer look at five of the most common indicators of mold sickness.
Fatigue is probably the number one symptom of well over 90% of CIRS patients. The level of fatigue varies from 5 on a 10 point scale all the way to 10 on a 10 point scale. Many patients can no longer work or remain productive as in the worst cases, the fatigue is overwhelming. College students living in moldy dorms frequently have to drop out of school until the illness is treated effectively. Older adults have to retire or stop working due the fatigue. If you have overwhelming fatigue, CIRS may be a major contributor to your illness.
Exposure to mold can cause a host of respiratory problems, such as breathing difficulties, allergies, and asthma, especially in individuals with a weakened immune system. Mold can worsen asthma, irritate the nasal passages, lungs, and throat, and lead to symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, sneezing, sore throat, and nasal congestion. Other health issues such as hypersensitivity pneumonitis, sinus congestion, allergic rhinitis, asthma, and allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis have also been associated with mold sickness.
Sadness and Depression
Mold can cause a variety of illnesses that can show up in different ways, such as psychological symptoms like anxiety, depression, insomnia, concentration problems, and memory loss. It has been reported that nearly 40% of people who live in moldy homes experience depression. Researchers suggest that exposure to toxic mold and dealing with the physical symptoms of mold illness can contribute to mental health issues.
Due to this phenomenon, many mold patients are given antidepressant medications in the conventional channels.
Feeling "Pins and Needles"
Numbness, twitching, or tingling in the extremities, such as hands, feet, legs, and arms, is another symptom of mold illness. The sensation is similar to pins and needles, which are often felt when the body is held in an uncomfortable position for a long time. While this sensation can indicate serious nerve damage or disease, it can also be a symptom of mold sickness.
Digestion Problems and Disorders
When exposed to mold, individuals may experience various digestive problems. Some may lose their appetite, leading to unintentional weight loss. Others may suffer from stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. Furthermore, the influx of mold spores may trigger systemic inflammation, causing bloating and weight gain due to the digestive system's exposure to harmful mold.
Top Tips for
Controlling Mold in Your Environment
It's not possible to completely eliminate all mold and mold spores from your home or place of work. However, since mold spores need moisture to grow, the best way to prevent or get rid of growth is to reduce the moisture in your environment. If you already have mold growing there, it's important to clean it up and address the issue causing dampness. If you only clean up the mold and don't address the underlying problem, the mold is likely to return.
Here are some tips to help reduce moisture throughout your home or office:
- Use A/C or Dehumidifiers. This is especially important if you live in a hot, humid area of the United States.
- Ensure A/C drip pans are clean, dry, and obstruction-free.
- Thoroughly dry areas that are damp or wet within 48 hours.
- Be sure to install insulation in cold areas like your home's exterior walls and windows. Doing so will reduce condensation.
- Work with an HVAC company to check your HVAC system. Doing so can help ensure your unit is removing as much humidity as possible.
- Keep the humidity in your home below 60% whenever possible.
Here are some tips to help reduce moisture in your kitchen:
- Check for leaks near your ice makers, sinks, and anywhere else water is present.
- Make sure your exhaust fans are directing moisture outside, not into your attic.
- If you notice your appliances are causing moisture on windows and other surfaces, turn them off as soon as you're done using them.
Here are some tips to help reduce moisture in crawlspaces:
- Use a plastic covering on the dirt in your crawlspace. Doing so will prevent moisture from saturating the ground.
- Ensure that your crawlspace or basement is ventilated well.
- Check your home's gutters. Make sure they're directing water away from your property, not toward your foundation or crawlspace.
Your Top Choice for
Mold Toxicity Treatment in Lake Barcroft, VA
Trying to "tough it out" through life with CIRS isn't any way to live. If you're suffering from the effects of biotoxin illness, you should know that there are solutions available to help you reclaim your health and your life. With the help of a can-do attitude, healthy living, and mold illness treatment from Proactive Wellness, there's light at the end of the dark tunnel you're trapped within. Contact our office today to get started on your first step toward recovery!
Latest News in Lake Barcroft, VA
JUST IN: Severe Thunderstorm Warning issued for parts of Arlington
A strong storm is approaching Arlington from the west, prompting a Severe Thunderstorm Warning.Fueled by today’s heat and humidity, the storms are packing potentially damaging winds, torrential rain and lightning. The current warning covers most of Arlington County, except the northernmost portion, through 7:30 p.m.More from the National Weather Service:The National Weather Service in Sterling Virginia has issued a * Severe Thunderstorm Warning for… The southeastern District of Columbia&he...
A strong storm is approaching Arlington from the west, prompting a Severe Thunderstorm Warning.
Fueled by today’s heat and humidity, the storms are packing potentially damaging winds, torrential rain and lightning. The current warning covers most of Arlington County, except the northernmost portion, through 7:30 p.m.
More from the National Weather Service:
The National Weather Service in Sterling Virginia has issued a
* Severe Thunderstorm Warning for… The southeastern District of Columbia… West central Prince Georges County in central Maryland… Arlington County in northern Virginia… The City of Falls Church in northern Virginia… East central Fairfax County in northern Virginia… The City of Alexandria in northern Virginia…
* Until 730 PM EDT.
* At 653 PM EDT, a severe thunderstorm was located over Lake Barcroft, or over Falls Church, moving east at 15 mph. HAZARD…60 mph wind gusts and quarter size hail. SOURCE…Radar indicated. IMPACT…Damaging winds will cause some trees and large branches to fall. This could injure those outdoors, as well as damage homes and vehicles. Roadways may become blocked by downed trees. Localized power outages are possible. Unsecured light objects may become projectiles.
* Locations impacted include…
Arlington, Alexandria, Annandale, Springfield, Fort Washington, Fort Hunt, Groveton, Falls Church, Huntington, Coral Hills, Pimmit Hills, National Harbor, Reagan National Airport, Crystal City, Nationals Park, Lincolnia, Franconia, Oxon Hill, Merrifield and Lake Barcroft. HAIL THREAT…RADAR INDICATED MAX HAIL SIZE…1.00 IN WIND THREAT…RADAR INDICATED MAX WIND GUST…60 MPH
Severe Thunderstorm Warning including Arlington VA, Alexandria VA and Reagan National Airport VA until 7:30 PM EDT pic.twitter.com/Xv2tj6JU7K
— NWS Baltimore-Washington (@NWS_BaltWash) July 27, 2023
6:50p: A ton of lightning with the storms west and NW of DC, especially in Fairfax County. Many of the strikes are occurring outside of where rain is reaching the ground. If you can hear thunder, you’re close enough to get struck by lightning. (image from WeatherBug Spark) pic.twitter.com/5zbHU2nt1L
— Capital Weather Gang (@capitalweather) July 27, 2023
Neighbors’ boat dock battle resolved
A long simmering landowner dispute over the right to store boats at a private dock in a lakefront community has been resolved by the Supreme Court of Virginia.The owner of a waterfront lot granted an access easement to the owners of two adjacent parcels in exchange for their agreement to build a retaining wall. With permission, the adjacent owners docked their pontoon boat and smaller watercraft a...
A long simmering landowner dispute over the right to store boats at a private dock in a lakefront community has been resolved by the Supreme Court of Virginia.
The owner of a waterfront lot granted an access easement to the owners of two adjacent parcels in exchange for their agreement to build a retaining wall. With permission, the adjacent owners docked their pontoon boat and smaller watercraft along the retaining wall.
Later owners brought that accommodation to a litigious halt.
In subsequent cases, the trial court rejected the adjacent owners’ bids for docking rights, finding that they failed to establish the requisite continuity and hostility for a prescriptive easement.
But the trial court’s ruling about docking the pontoon boat was wrong.
“Even if we assume that the original docking was permissive, the sale of the land vitiated the permission granted by the original owners,” Justice Stephen R. McCullough, said. “No evidence indicates any of the subsequent owners granted any kind of permission to dock a boat on their land.”
Finding that evidence supported the adjacent owner’s right to store their pontoon boat at the dock, the justices also reversed the trial court’s award of punitive damages to the dock owner.
The opinion is Horn, et al. v. Webb, et al. (VLW 023-6-004).
The Fidels owned Lot 612, a waterfront residential parcel in Lake Barcroft, a lakefront community in Fairfax County. In 1966, they granted a 20-foot wide access easement on their property to the owners of adjacent Lots 613 and 615 in exchange for their agreement to build a waterfront retaining wall along Lot 612.
The Fidels also allowed the adjacent owners to dock pontoon boats and smaller watercraft, such as canoes and skiffs, along the retaining wall. Over the next few decades, ownership of the three lots changed hands; the owners of Lots 613 and 615 kept docking their boats at Lot 612.
But when James and Hong Webb bought Lot 612 in 2017, they told their neighbors to move the boats. Atul Rustgi owned Lot 613, while Lot 615 was owned by Kevin and Meredith Horn. Both Rustgi and the Horns refused to move their boats, including a pontoon they jointly owned.
In July 2019, Rustgi sued for a declaratory judgment that he had an easement to dock boats at Lot 612. The Fairfax Circuit Court sided with the Webbs and awarded damages for their trespass and nuisance counterclaims.
After his lawsuit sank, Rustgi sold his half interest in the pontoon boat to the Horns. Undeterred by Rustgi’s failure, the Horns continued to dock their boats at Lot 612 in spite of the Webbs’ renewed protests.
The Webbs filed suit against the Horns for trespass, nuisance and sought a declaratory judgment of their rights. The Horns’ countersued for prescriptive easement rights to dock their pontoon boat and smaller watercraft at Lot 612.
The Horns alleged that they had been storing smaller watercraft in the same spot along the retaining wall at Lot 612 continuously since they bought Lot 615 in 2005. A neighbor’s testimony supported their allegation.
A series of aerial photographs taken between 1972-2009 didn’t show the small watercraft docked at Lot 612 as the Horns or their neighbor described. The trial court again sided with the Webbs.
The trial court found the Horns liable for $11,550 in compensatory damages and awarded the Webbs $45,000 in punitive damages because the Horns’ persistence in claiming a prescriptive easement was inexcusable after Rustgi’s claims were defeated.
The Horns appealed.
To establish a prescriptive easement, claimants must prove that their use of land was adverse, under a claim of right, exclusive, continuous, uninterrupted and with the knowledge and acquiescence of the owner of the land over which it passes, and that the use has continued for at least 20 years.
Here, McCullough said there was conflicting evidence about whether the Horns continuously docked their small watercraft at Lot 612 for 20 years. The justice pointed out that the trial court found the neighbor’s testimony equivocal and in conflict with aerial photographs.
Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prevailing party, he said the trial court correctly found that the Horns didn’t establish prescriptive easement rights to dock small watercraft at Lot 612.
McCullough said there was ample record evidence to support the trial court’s finding that the docking of a pontoon boat on Lot 612 was open, visible, continuous and unmolested since 1966.
The question, however, was whether the docking was hostile.
“A claimant ‘is in hostile possession if his possession is under a claim of right and adverse to the right of the true owner,’” McCullough explained, adding that the “claimant need not make a hostile intention express.”
Although permission to occupy the land negates hostility, the justice said open, visible and continuous use of land for 20 years entitles a claimant to a presumption of hostility.
“The burden is on the owner of the servient estate, in this instance, the Webbs, to rebut ‘this presumption by showing that the use was permissive, and not under claim of right,’” McCullough wrote.
The Horns were entitled to a hostility presumption because their evidence established that the docking of their boat was open, visible and continuous for 20 years. Conversely, the justice said the Webbs offered no evidence that they gave the Horns permission to dock their boat.
Assuming the existence of a boat docking agreement between the prior owners, McCullough said permission would have ended when the Fidels sold Lot 612.
The justice disagreed with the trial court’s holding that once permission is granted, it is presumed to continue indefinitely, even when the person who granted permission sells the land.
“Permission does not extend beyond the ownership of the person who granted permission,” McCullough wrote. “Therefore, a permissive use terminates when the owner who granted permission sells the property.”
Because the Webbs didn’t present evidence that successors in title to the Fidels gave permission for boat docking, the Horns established all necessary elements for a prescriptive easement from when the Fidels sold their land in 1976.
Further, McCullough said that evidence showing the prior owners were on friendly terms didn’t establish a permissive use.
“Failure to object is acquiescence,” he wrote. “Acquiescence is not the same as granting permission.”
Finding that the Horns established their right to a prescriptive easement to dock a boat on the Webbs’ lot, McCullough reversed the trial court’s holding.
Since the Horns weren’t parties to Rustgi’s failed lawsuit and the record didn’t support a finding of malice, the court reversed the punitive damages award.
Arlington real estate attorney Aristotelis A. Chronis represented the Horns until they decided to go pro se two weeks before the writ panel argument in order to save costs. He was happy that the trial court allowed his clients to present their case, despite Rustgi’s outcome.
“Who’s to say what the prior owners talked about, so you could have zero knowledge of some permissive use,” Chronis cautioned, advising that an owner should “pipe up and say something rather than assume some use is permissive rather than hostile.”
He also stressed the importance of the court’s reversal on punitive damages awarded by the circuit court.
“If that ruling had remained intact, it would have a major chilling effect where people were just upholding their rights,” he said.
John Chapman ‘Chap’ Petersen of Fairfax, who represented the Webbs in both trials, told Virginia Lawyers Weekly he was shocked by the reversal. He balked at the high court’s ruling that hostile use tacked from one owner to the next, but not permissiveness.
“In both trials we had witnesses who were there when the lake was originally dredged and the retaining wall built who testified it was done with the consent of all the neighbors,” Peterson said. “They all had parties there, barbecues. It was use that started and continued with permission and as a result there was no adversity.”
Lake Barcroft cleans up after storm downs trees, power lines
FALLS CHURCH, Va. — The cleanup continues in the Lake Barcroft area Friday morning after a strong storm Thursday brought down trees and power lines throughout the community. Photos: August thunderstorms roll through the DC area Here are some images of Thursday’s severe weather shared by listeners (and by some of WTOP’s own). “It’s about the strongest I’v...
FALLS CHURCH, Va. — The cleanup continues in the Lake Barcroft area Friday morning after a strong storm Thursday brought down trees and power lines throughout the community.
“It’s about the strongest I’ve seen since I have been here in 40 years,” resident George Erikson told WTOP. “It’s the first time I ever went into the basement to wait it out.”
Many streets in the neighborhood are still covered in tree shrapnel from broken branches. Some streets remain blocked by downed trees.
Tree-clearing crews are making their way through the neighborhood to get the trees cleared. They will be followed by utility crews to replace power lines and cables.
Erikson said there were four large trees that were down on his property, including several that blocked the cart path down to his dock on the lake.
He was up early Friday to meet with the tree removal team to clear out those felled trees.
“Called him while the storm was going on!” Erikson said.
The damage wasn’t nearly as bad for others.
Ken Leventhal was in D.C. at the time of the storm but came home to large branches down all over his property.
“I didn’t anticipate and I was ultimately surprised by the force that must have been here,” said Leventhal. “It didn’t hit any cars and it didn’t break the roof.”
He is clearing most of the debris himself.
“Probably doing the easiest first quarter of just picking up leaves and loose debris,” he said. “My son will probably be over on the weekend and maybe we’ll get a saw.”
Leventhal noted that several roads were closed when he tried to get home Thursday from all of the damage left behind by the storm.
But overall, he’s grateful that it wasn’t any worse.
“Gotta be thankful that nobody was hurt and, in the end, the damage was not that crazy.”
After Massive Lake Barcroft Sewage Spill, Fairfax County Fails To Warn Residents
WAMU/Michael PopeOver a six-week period last year, a series of massive infrastructure failures sent more than 300,000 gallons of raw sewage into Lake Barcroft, a private lake next to Bailey’s Crossroads near the border with Arlington and Alexandria. Neighbors who live on the lake say they knew there was a problem because they could smell it, although they say they never received official notice from Fairfax County.“The smell was overwhelming. You knew there was a problem,” says Sheila Wayman, a longtime reside...
Over a six-week period last year, a series of massive infrastructure failures sent more than 300,000 gallons of raw sewage into Lake Barcroft, a private lake next to Bailey’s Crossroads near the border with Arlington and Alexandria. Neighbors who live on the lake say they knew there was a problem because they could smell it, although they say they never received official notice from Fairfax County.
“The smell was overwhelming. You knew there was a problem,” says Sheila Wayman, a longtime resident of Lake Barcoft. “It was like a toilet overflowed and nobody took care of it on a hot summer day, and it was just bacteria and gassy smells and it was disgusting.”
The four spills into Lake Barcroft were part of a larger problem with the sewer lines in that area, which included six spills in 2013 and 2014. State regulators say the county dumped more than 600,000 gallons of sewage into Holmes Run, Lake Barcroft and an unnamed tributary of Hunting Creek. The Department of Environmental Quality hit Fairfax County with a $27,300 civil charge, a case that was closed late last month after county officials submitted a plan to fix the problem.
“There were people swimming in Lake Barcroft after it had been contaminated,” says Del. Kaye Kory (D-38). “There were pets drinking the water. There were people using the water to water their gardens. All these activities were going on, and every time a citizen touched or used the water they were being exposed to a danger and I know of a number of people who really became sick, became ill.”
Fairfax County officials say the infrastructure problem has now been solved. They say they were in the process of retrofitting old 1950s-era pipes when the spills happened. The temporary pipes they set up to handle the sewage were able to take the massive weather events that happened in 2013 and 2014, which led to the overflow. All that temporary equipment has now been removed because the permanent pipes have been improved and are now operating at full capacity.
“Since this event, we’ve worked out an arrangement where we notify the water improvement district as soon as the event occurs,” says Randy Bartlett, deputy director of the Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services.
Created in 1973, the water improvement district is a Virginia government agency that acts as a special tax district to raise money for the purpose of maintaining the private lake. Although Fairfax County officials notified state regulators when the spills happened, they did not directly notify residents. Bartlett says the county has no plans to directly notify residents in the future.
“I’m not sure I have the means or method right now to make sure that I notify all the proper people and to identify who might be impacted by a sewer spill,” says Bartlett. “If there’s 40 a year, do I notify everybody in the county every time one occurs even though it may not be in their area?”
The politics of notification
The story of what happened in Lake Barcroft last year is a touchy subject in this part of Fairfax County, a community that includes about 1,000 homes. About 270 of those homes are directly on the lake. When the spill happened, the county posted several paper signs at gathering spots on the lake known as “beaches.” Bartlett says the signs were an effort to improve notification efforts.
“I think if you go back probably 10 or 15 years, we were probably not doing notification after we would have a sanitary sewer overflow,” says Bartlett. “We would notify the Department of Environmental Quality, but we would not be out there trying to put signs in all the different places.”
Neighbors say the signs did not accomplish the goal of notifying neighbors.
“The temporary signs that the county placed on the beaches were small and not sufficiently weather-proof and did not adequately alert the membership to the situation,” wrote Lake Barcroft Association President Jim Kilbourne in a letter to state regulators. “In particular, the signs placed at the beaches did not provide notice to the more than 270 homeowners with lakefront property who do not access the lake from the beaches.”
Several neighbors viewed the signs as an inadequate response to a serious problem.
“On at least one occasion, the county tacked a small paper sign to a single telephone pole warning the public of the water hazard,” wrote resident Kimberly Smith in a letter to state regulators. “It was a small sign, easily overlooked if one didn’t know to look for it … a bit of rain or dew would destroy the paper sign.”
What happens next?
Kory, the member of the House of Delegates who represents Lake Barcroft, says she believes Fairfax County dropped the ball. She says the county’s new policy of notifying the watershed improvement district is an insufficient response to the problem.
“I don’t agree with it,” says Kory. “I think it’s inadequate. I don’t think it’s in the public interest. It’s not what citizens expect.”
Kory says she’s already working on legislation for the upcoming session of the General Assembly.
“I think the state should require that those residents who would be adversely affected by a sewage spill need to be informed in a timely fashion,” says Kory. “I think that has to be part of our state code.”
Meanwhile, back at the lake, residents are concerned that the county’s aging infrastructure will be able to handle all the new growth and development planned for the area. Many say they are specifically concerned about a proposal to redevelop the strip malls and big box stores at Seven Corners, where developers want to construct as many as 6,000 new homes.
“I think that when it comes to infrastructure, whether it’s sewers or roads or whatever, I think we have a problem,” says Rita Babon, longtime resident of Lake Barcroft. “I hope they are going to be on top of it this time.”
[Music: “Lakehouse” by Guitar Tribute Players from Acoustic Tribute to Of Monsters and Men ]
Jake's Ice Cream Offers Valuable Work For People With Disabilities
Jake's Ice Cream's owner prepares to open a second business called Jake's Gourmet Popcorn, which will also employ people with disabilities.LAKE BARCROFT, VA — At Jake's Ice Cream in the Barcroft Plaza shopping center, Adam works as a greeter welcoming guests and informing them about the ice cream offerings. He also runs social media for the business and will take on additional social media tasks for Jake's Gourmet Popcorn in Seven Corners.Adam, like most employees of Jake's Ice Cream Shop, is a person with a disability....
Jake's Ice Cream's owner prepares to open a second business called Jake's Gourmet Popcorn, which will also employ people with disabilities.
LAKE BARCROFT, VA — At Jake's Ice Cream in the Barcroft Plaza shopping center, Adam works as a greeter welcoming guests and informing them about the ice cream offerings. He also runs social media for the business and will take on additional social media tasks for Jake's Gourmet Popcorn in Seven Corners.
Adam, like most employees of Jake's Ice Cream Shop, is a person with a disability. He is a spastic quadriplegic, which is a severe form of cerebral palsy. He does not have use of his arms and legs and has vision difficulties. To do social media posts for the ice cream parlor, he uses a voice-activated computer. That means he has to "talk the mouse across the screen so that he can get it in exactly the right spot."
When he has to learn new things, it can get frustrating. So he asked owner Robin Rinearson if he can give social media responsibilities for the upcoming popcorn shop to someone else.
But Rinearson didn't agree, encouraging Adam to keep instructions organized in an email folder and use them with text-to-voice translation. She has confidence in employees like Adam that they can and will get the job done.
That's why Rinearson doesn't believe the story of Jake's Ice Cream is about her, an optometrist who retired after she opened the ice cream shop. It's about the 25 employees, 21 of whom have disabilities.
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"The reason for opening this ice cream parlor was to employ people with disabilities," Rinearson told Patch. "It's named Jake's after my nephew, Jake, who has cerebral palsy and who had a job for eight years before COVID hit. And when COVID came around, he and the 17 other people with disabilities that were working at his job were not accommodated."
That infuriated Rinearson, who has worked with the disability community as an optometrist.
When she decided to open a business to employ people like her nephew, Jake's Ice Cream was born in August 2021. Employees are trained to make the small batches of ice cream created on-site. The shop also runs occasional catering events, largely during the school year.
"The staff here all helps to make the ice cream," said Rinearson. "They scoop. They pack pints. They help make the ice cream cakes. They help decorate the ice cream cakes. They make the waffle cones. They make the cake pops, they make the decorated cookies, the dip pretzels, all of the confections that we do."
The ice cream parlor initially employed 11 people who were patients at Rinearson's practice before she retired in late 2021. Now the shop employs 25 people, and about half of the employees have individual job coaches to help them succeed in their work.
"For them, it's a job for life, unlike someone at a high school or college where they might be here for a summer or for a year," said Rinearson. "These are people that are looking for jobs, and when they get a job coach, they can't be hired for seasonal work. They only get a job coach if they're hired for year-round work."
Finding enough job coaching has been a pain point for Rinearson, who has expectations that employees can be trained to perform different tasks in the businesses. When a group coach serving nine employees was pulled in September, two employees who were too disabled to work without a group coach could no longer work there.
Another hurdle is the earning limits under the Social Security Disability Insurance benefits and Medicaid waiver. Before July 2021, Rinearson said there was a subminimum wage waiver that encouraged employers to hire people with disabilities. Employers could pay less than minimum wage and employ them for a certain amount of hours without going over the income that would make employees lose their benefits.
That changed in July 2021, and Virginia's wage increased to $9.50 per hour. It increased again to $11 per hour in 2022 and $12 per hour in 2023.
"For people that have income limits with disabilities, it's horrific because now they're working fewer hours," said Rinearson. "Their work is their social life. They have an identity around their job, and they have an identity with the social group that they work with. They have a sense of pride. They are able to live somewhat independently."
Rinearson has testified to the state legislature in support of increasing the income employees can make before losing their benefits.
Rinearson looks for ways to make the tasks easier for employees to understand and carry out. Nearly everything in the shop is color coded, so employees know which sizes to use rather than knowing the difference between 6 ounces and 12 ounces.
The business also works with Poolesville High School in Montgomery County, Maryland, where students create apps or devices to make it easier for employees with disabilities. The high school created a change-making app to help employees understand the number of coins and dollar bills to give a customer in change.
The Jake's Gourmet Popcorn opening in Seven Corners will have less complex work for employees who may not be able to perform the ice cream parlor duties, Rinearson says.
"There will be many more things that people can do that are not high functioning, putting labels on bags and labels on tins and filling popcorn bags," said Rinearson. "We still will have to be careful about food allergies and cross contamination, but it's a lot easier with a dry good than it is with stuff that's wet and frozen."
The new popcorn shop will be at Seven Corners Center next to Michaels. Rinearson was inspired by popular commercial popcorn makers in Chicago, where she went to graduate school.
Rinearson is aiming for the popcorn shop to open by the end of April. She is in the process of hiring employees, including two who she had let go from the ice cream shop. It will also include participants from Arlington Program for Employment Preparedness, which also bring in interns with job coaches to Jake's Ice Cream. Interns from that program have been hired as employees.
For both businesses, no job description is provided for prospective employees, as Rinearson tries to "meet people where they're at."
"This is a phenomenal group of employees," she said. "It's a long, slow, steep, slow learning curve to teach them how to do things. I think it's worth the price of training to put people to work."
When Rinearson sees discussions among ice cream parlor owners that they're having trouble finding employees, she has one piece of advice.
"Hire somebody with a disability," she said. "Train them in the wintertime before you get ready to open. Hire them. They will be model employees."
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