Concern about Naturally-occurring Asbestos in Nevada Town
In Boulder City, Nevada, the terrain is rocky. After all, the name of the town is “Boulder” City. It’s a common site to look out one’s window there and see nothing but rocks, with perhaps a bit of brush mixed in here and there.
Pretty innocuous, right? What could be the problem with a bunch of rocks?
Well, say two researchers from the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, those rocks aren’t just any old rock. They contain asbestos fibers, which could be affecting the health of the people who live and work nearby.
Naturally-occurring asbestos can be an issue in many areas in the western portion of the United States and in some other spots throughout the country as well.
The mineral was first discovered in the Boulder City area in 2014 when the aforementioned researchers decided to do a little snooping.
After they discovered asbestos on both sides of the Nevada/Arizona border, the discovery prompted some more research by an asbestos expert from Libby, Montana, who had studied the problems there at the W.R. Grace and Company vermiculite mine, a facility that killed hundreds and sickened thousands.
The researcher, Jean Pfau, told News-3 Las Vegas that she gave Arizona asbestos to mice and watched as they got sick very quickly. Within four months, she noted, they had developed a host of autoimmune diseases.
“It’s not cancer but its scar tissue that wraps around the lungs so the loss of lung function, the difficulty catching your breath comes on subtly and slowly,” Pfau told reporters.
She claims she gave the same amount to the mice that a person would be subject to if they were merely living in Boulder City with no intentional exposure to the rocks via hiking or other outdoor activities.
Hence, the report concluded that casual exposure could indeed cause diseases amongst those living in the region, a finding that many find quite disturbing.
The question remains as to how much of that asbestos makes its way into the air in and around Boulder City and is inhaled by those living or working there or visiting the area for recreation. Those figures are extra important.
“People want to know “What is my exposure?” and that’s the data we are now missing.” Pfau told the news station. “We can’t ignore environmental exposure anymore.”