New Naturally Occurring Asbestos Discovered

A recent study that will be presented at the Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America (GSA) in Vancouver, Canada will illustrate that the formation and presence of naturally occurring asbestos minerals could be more widespread than previous reports. This study focuses on the discovery of new sources of naturally occurring asbestos in the Las Vegas metropolitan area. Specifically, naturally occurring asbestos was discovered in Boulder City, Nevada on the path of the Boulder City bypass construction zone. In theory, naturally occurring asbestos can be just as dangerous as manufactured asbestos used in construction and building materials. In fact, naturally occurring asbestos in previously undiscovered regions could present significantly more risks. This is because a lack of awareness of the presence of asbestos would prevent the proper precautions from being taken to prevent exposure to asbestos fibers, which can result in serious and fatal illnesses such as asbestosis and mesothelioma.


The GSA Naturally Asbestos Study

Asbestos is a family of fibrous materials that can come in many different types. The asbestos discovered in Las Vegas are the fibrous iron sodium amphiboles and fibrous actinolite. It is believed that the geological location of this discovered naturally occurring asbestos is a breeding ground for unusual asbestos formation. This is because asbestos develops like a precious metal deposit, in that asbestos minerals form as a result of a confluence of the various geological features where formation occurs, and these geological features typically vary by location. The geological confluence of the discovered naturally occurring asbestos involves the interaction of groundwater with rock salt and also a cooling magma body located deep below the earth’s surface. This confluence has served to create the newly discovered naturally occurring asbestos fibers.

Naturally occurring asbestos presents significant risks because it is difficult to control, unlike manufactured and mined asbestos. The unique risk of exposure caused by the newly discovered naturally occurring asbestos is that when the rocks containing the asbestos are brought to the surface, exposure to wind and rain can disperse the asbestos fibers into the air. Another risk is the fact that this is the first discovery of naturally occurring asbestos in a geological setting like Nevada, which is extremely dry with many desert locations. In the past, regulations have been created to protect people from exposure in mining locations, and other areas that have been known to breed asbestos fibers. Now, the concern is that these regulations may not be applicable to desert geological settings such as Las Vegas.

In response to these risks, the construction of the Boulder City bypass has been delayed. This delay is a necessary precaution since asbestos exposure could present a real risk to not only Boulder City’s 15,000 residents, but also to the nearby Las Vegas metropolitan area and its 1.9 million inhabitants. Scientists are currently researching the amount of asbestos concentration in the soil. These scientists are also attempting to determine the toxicity of this naturally occurring asbestos to humans, and how far the fibers can be transported via wind.

Concerned that you have been exposed to asbestos? Contact an asbestos exposure attorney today for legal representation.


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