Tomorrow this article will appear in the Boulder City Review on NOA. Here is my reply which is over the 300 word limit for a letter to the editor and may not be published. I believe it is important and so I am re-posting it here.
I assume your reference was: http://www.webmd.com/cancer/mesothelioma-11211
The headline atop last week’s news story seems to say it all: “Questions linger.”
There is no longer any question that naturally occurring asbestos is present within Boulder City. Asbestos refers to a family of fibrous minerals not all of which are currently regulated by law. Actionolite, a form of asbestos which is federally regulated, has been determined to occur naturally in Boulder City. There is no question that asbestos is a carcinogen and that exposure to asbestos can adversely affect the respiratory and immune systems. Hali,
The “discovery” of naturally occurring asbestos in the area has people concerned, and rightly so.
Naturally occurring asbestos has been determined to present both in Boulder City and the area around Boulder City. It has been determined to be present adjacent to the Martha King Elementary School, on the dry lake bed which is used for off-roading, and in other locations within the city which are popular for walking and hiking. Once disturbed asbestos fibers can remain air borne for days and can migrate into areas where asbestos is not naturally present.
But just how concerned do they need to be and what type of threat this poses to their health is still unknown.
Per the EPA there is no known safe level for asbestos exposure. That fully two years have passed since the publication of the peer reviewed study which unequivocally demonstrated the presence of naturally occurring asbestos in and around Boulder City, without the City of Boulder City acknowledging the hazard or taking action to minimize the risks to its residents and guests, is in itself cause for concern.
Even Brenda Buck and Rodney Metcalf, the two scientists who made the discovery, say more research is needed, as did David Berry of the Environmental Protection Agency during a recent meeting with local citizens.
Buck 2013 Naturally Occurring Asbestos
More research is definitely needed. It has yet to be determined how many people, in adjacent communities and neighboring states have been put at increased risk due to the failure of local government to even acknowledge the existence of naturally occurring asbestos until years after its present was confirmed as scientific fact. A single instance of meat or produce contaminated with E. Coli, or eggs contaminated with salmonella, receives an immediate acknowledgement and a response that far exceeds in scope and thoroughness anything which has been done to monitor or control the naturally occurring asbestos in and around Boulder City.
They said that there is no specific data to determine how much asbestos exposure can lead to mesothelioma. And of those who died from the disease in Clark County, there is no no certainty about where — or if — they were exposed to asbestos fibers.
Mesothelioma is a disease caused by asbestos exposure. If a person has not been exposed to asbestos, they cannot be accurately diagnosed as having developed mesothelioma. The more pressing question is, how many cases of mesothelioma have either been misdiagnosed or gone completely undetected because there was no knowledge in the medical community of the presence of naturally occurring asbestos in Southern Nevada?
According to WebMD, asbestos is the main cause of mesothelioma but not the only one. Radiation, a virus, and genetics also could cause the rare form of cancer.
Misquoting a source is journalistic misconduct. This is yellow journalism at its worst.
As per WebMD: “The American Cancer Society notes that there have been a few published reports of mesotheliomas that developed following exposure to high doses of radiation to the chest or abdomen or after injections of thorium dioxide (Thorotrast), a material used by doctors in some chest X-rays until the 1950s.” There are more than “a few published reports” that establish the link between exposure to asbestos and mesothelioma. Erionite, a mineral which also forms toxic fibers similar to asbestos, is believed to be responsible for elevated rates of mesothelioma in Turkey. Infection with the SV40 virus is believed to increase the risk of developing mesothelioma but does not itself cause the disease. Genetics can make a person more susceptible to developing mesothelioma but cannot itself cause the disease.
There is no doubt that exposure to asbestos is unhealthy. Studies have shown a link between asbestos exposure and mesothelioma as well as other cancers.
That is the understatement of the year!
Most of these studies, however, have involved occupational exposures to the toxic substance, and usually in large quantities.
The most recent study which addressed mortality in a cohort not associated with occupational exposure was suppressed by the Nevada State Department of Health.
Baumann et al 2015
How naturally occurring asbestos affects individuals’ remains to be seen. Unfortunately, it also takes decades for its effects to show up.
The presence of actinolite in and around Boulder City is established fact as are its harmful effects upon the human body. Toxins such as lead and arsenic are also cumulative in their effect, and while symptoms may take years to manifest depending on the amount and circumstances of ingestions, they remain closed monitored and regulated. The fact that asbestos is naturally occurring does not make it any less harmful than asbestos which has been processed.
NOA Citizens Action Group