When we hear news about asbestos exposure, we usually hear about the kind caused by products that include the toxic material, like popcorn ceilings, siding, floor and ceiling tiles, and insulation.
But in Boulder City, Nevada, where a housing boom is about to take place, residents are more concerned about the asbestos that’s under the ground.
With the recent completion of the Interstate 11 bypass as well as plans for an interstate link between Phoenix and Las Vegas, that area is a prime location for a housing and business boom, say experts who’ve been watching the trends in that area.
But digging up portions of the desert that haven’t been disturbed for centuries has prompted worries about disturbing natural asbestos, which is common in that portion of the American Southwest.
It’s important to remember that while the asbestos may be lurking in the desert, it’s currently not causing any harm. But as soon as the bulldozers, backhoes, and diggers move in, the trouble starts.
Disturbed asbestos will prompt toxic dust that can permeate the air. Anyone who inhales it – especially in sizeable quantities – will become a candidate for eventually developing asbestos-related diseases, including mesothelioma cancer.
It’s a scenario that we often don’t consider when building houses elsewhere in the country. But in that portion of Southern Nevada as well as parts of Arizona and other states in the region, natural deposits of asbestos are rampant.
Researchers at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas have been talking about the situation for several years now, particularly with the addition of the Rt. 11 bypass.
Because the construction of hundreds of homes are already planned for the desert areas that have thus far been vacant, they see the threat of asbestos contamination as very real.
Others aren’t concerned, especially the builders and developers, who are anxious to capitalize on the new popularity of the regions just off the bypass, which have become attractive as potential home locations for individuals who are eager to use the roadway to get to work or elsewhere.
They think the concerns voiced by the UNLV experts are over-dramatic.
Nevada government officials have also rebuffed the professors, ever since they started talking about their concerns back in 2015. They say that reports about a cluster of mesothelioma cases in spots where asbestos is abundant are not accurate.
Still, the studies have prompted health officials to stand up and take notice of the situation.
They wonder whether this quick wave of growth – while helping Boulder City’s financial position – will do harm. They will likely take all opinions and facts into consideration before they offer theirs.