Asbestos is the common term for a group of naturally-occurring, fibrous minerals. Because these minerals have fire-resistant and insulative properties, manufacturers added them to many man-made products over the years.
However, researchers have linked these minerals to aggressive forms of cancer and other health conditions. Most people who develop asbestos-related conditions were exposed to the substance through close contact with some of the man-made materials created with asbestos. Although exposure via man-made materials is common, it is important not to forget that asbestos, itself, is not man-made.
Asbestos found in the dust blowing around Clark County
One place asbestos minerals exist naturally is in Clark County, Nevada, which is located just south of Las Vegas. Scientists found these minerals in the area’s rocks and dust. This means that every time the dust gets disturbed, asbestos fibers can fill the air where they can easily become inhaled. Inhaling asbestos fibers is the most common way they can enter the body and cause problems.
Wind blowing through the area may disturb dust containing asbestos. However, people may also kick up dust as they go about their daily activities, such as:
- Driving cars or ATVs on unpaved roads
- Riding horses
- Playing sports outside
However, construction crews may also be kicking up dust that contains asbestos. After all, Clark County is one of the fastest growing counties in the United States.
Unfortunately, it is difficult for researchers to tell how much the residents of this area are actually being exposed to asbestos. The Clark County Department of Air Quality monitors weather conditions that could kick up dust, but it does not monitor the concentration of naturally occurring asbestos in the air.
It is unclear how much asbestos exposure is enough to cause illness. However, it may be prudent to assume that no amount of asbestos exposure is safe.