Asbestos in NV desert poses risk during interstate construction

7 Nov 2018 by under News

Nevada asbestos research image by KNPR.org  100x100 Asbestos in NV desert poses risk during interstate constructionThe completion of the Interstate 11 bypass in Boulder City, Nevada, and plans for an interstate linking Phoenix and Las Vegas promises a housing and business boom in the desert. But it is raising safety concerns among residents. That’s because digging up long-dormant areas of the desert could disturb naturally occurring asbestos in the earth. If its microscopic fibers go airborne, those exposed are at risk for serious health consequences.

is a mineral that is mined for its durability and fire resistance and was widely used in construction, friction and shipbuilding materials until its use was restricted in the United States in the 1980s. By then, the risks of exposure were well established. exposure can lead to the incurable lung disease asbestosis, lung cancer, and , a rare type of cancer that forms in the lining of the lungs, abdomen or chest. It can take decades for these -related diseases to develop. Mesothelioma is particularly deadly, killing most people within 12 to 24 months.

Asbestos – whether in building materials or in the earth – poses no threat if left undisturbed. But if its near-invisible fibers go airborne, they can float in the air for days. Because of this risk, workers followed Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines for working around asbestos during construction of the interstate. But what about the continued development in this area of the desert?

What Nevada officials want to avoid is another situation like Libby, Montana, where industries were mining asbestos on purpose. While the mine there has been shut down for years, people are still being diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases.

Source: KNPR

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