Nevada and Asbestos Exposure

Nevada is not home to naturally occurring asbestos and the state has never participated directly in the asbestos mining or production industry. However, due to Nevada’s population explosion, at least twelve power plants were built between 1980 and 2000.  Though it is unlikely these power plants contain dangerous amounts of asbestos, the plants built before 1980 likely made extensive use of the toxic mineral.

Various research and health statistics show that those at the highest risk for asbestos related health conditions include maintenance and repair personnel, boiler makers, pipe fitters, electricians, and construction workers. Studies show that malignant mesothelioma was the cause of death in over 3% of those employed in power plants who died of work related causes. For more than 50 years, asbestos was utilized as a flame resistant insulator, as well as a component in a vast array of building materials including cement, drywall and plaster. The risk to power plant employees was proven in 2003, when medical personnel discovered that 13% of Puerto Rican power plant employees evidenced lung abnormalities when chest x-rays were given. In most cases, cigarettes were ruled out as a cause for the said abnormalities.

Las Vegas has many buildings which were constructed when asbestos was widely used, especially prior to the 1980s. Asbestos-related health conditions and asbestos cancers are essentially rare; however, proportionately, they affect a much higher percentage of those who work in building construction. Between 1979 and 1999, there were over 150 deaths in Nevada directly related to asbestos, and in most cases, the individuals died from mesothelioma.

Currently, between 25% and 30% of those living in the United States will be diagnosed with some type of malignancy during their lifetime. There are various reasons for this, which include the many toxins being released into the environment–asbestos being a classic example. Individuals who live or work near locations where asbestos is or was used should be checked by a medical doctor on a regular basis for any indication of the possible presence of mesothelioma. The earlier one receives a definitive diagnosis of mesothelioma, the greater chance he or she has of responding well to treatment, which can sometimes result in a better overall prognosis.