Asbestos in Nevada

The desert state of Nevada has a longstanding history of mining and tourism. Although asbestos does not occur naturally in Nevada, several industries exposed workers to the toxic mineral at the jobsite, increasing their chance of developing an asbestos-related disease like mesothelioma cancer. Many of the state's dominant industrial companies produce electric machinery, often using asbestos containing materials to insulate the equipment. Asbestos is also widely used in construction, a leading Nevada industry that accounted for more than 11.6 percent of the state's economy as of 1998.

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The mining and refining of natural resources is another leading industry with ties to asbestos exposure. Over the past few decades, several Nevada refineries received shipments of asbestos-contaminated vermiculite ore from a mine in Libby, Montana. It is likely that any workers who handled, processed or shipped vermiculite from Libby were exposed to airborne asbestos fibers.

According to data from the Centers of Disease Control (CDC), Nevada ranks 36th in the nation for deaths from mesothelioma and asbestosis, with the highest incidences of asbestos-related disease occurring in the cities of Reno, Las Vegas and Henderson.

Occupations and Jobsites at Risk

While Nevada has no history of mining asbestos, large amounts of the material were shipped in from other states. A primary supplier was the W.R. Grace Mine in Libby, Montana, a site that received national attention for failing to warn the public of known asbestos contamination and the associated health risks.

Las Vegas strip

Nevada Mesothelioma &
Asbestosis Deaths, 1999-2013

  • 250 Mesothelioma Deaths
  • 38 Asbestosis Deaths
  • 288 Total Deaths

Treatment Centers near Nevada

Nevada Comprehensive Cancer Center

Nevada Comprehensive Cancer Center

3730 S. Eastern Avenue, Las Vegas, NV, 89169

Mercy Hospital

Mercy Hospital

195 Fore River Parkway Portland, ME 04102

Maine Medical Center Cancer Institute

Maine Medical Center Cancer Institute

100 Campus Drive Scarborough ME 04074

Massachusetts General Hospital

Massachusetts General Hospital

55 Fruit Street, Cox 2, Boston, MA 02114

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

450 Brookline Avenue, Boston, MA, 02215

VA Boston Healthcare System

VA Boston Healthcare System

1400 VFW Parkway West Roxbury, MA 02132

Doctors in Nevada

Nicholas J. Vogelzang

Nicholas J. Vogelzang

Medical Oncology
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Three drywall manufacturers in Nevada processed more than 85,000 tons of contaminated vermiculite ore from the Libby mine:

An unnamed refinery in Overton also received contaminated vermiculite from the Libby. When the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) visited these four sites, less than 1 percent asbestos was found in the air and soil. The EPA determined that cleanup efforts were not needed, although former employees of these companies may have been exposed to toxic levels of asbestos fibers.

Construction workers have faced numerous asbestos-related health threats in Nevada. Many of the state’s historic hotels and casinos, as well as privately owned homes and businesses, were built with asbestos-containing materials. Workers responsible for the repair and maintenance of these structures often inhaled asbestos fibers released from construction materials such as fiberboard, tiles and roof shingles.

Chemical plants in Nevada are also known for exposing workers to asbestos. The former Montrose Chemical Corporation and Stauffer Management Company sites were both found to be contaminated with asbestos.

Other industrial sites where asbestos exposure may have occurred include:

In 2008, the owners of Sunrise Mountain Landfill — which contains nearly 50 million cubic yards of waste including asbestos materials — were fined $1 million for violating the EPA Clean Water Act. Renovations to the Clark County facility exceeding $36 million were also ordered to correct hazardous waste discharges of up to 14 million pounds each year.

Casinos

In 2007, state and federal agencies launched an investigation at the Flamingo Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas after discovering that remodeling procedures may have exposed workers and casino patrons to airborne asbestos dust. Harrah’s Casinos have also been caught in the middle of asbestos scandals. For example, the casino was required to pay $6,930 in fines for 12 serious asbestos violations in 2006. The fine, which was issued for failing to provide workers with proper protective gear while removing asbestos, was reduced from the original fee of $11,550.

Other Nevada hotels and casinos where asbestos exposure occurred include:

According to one report, as many as 32 Las Vegas casinos filed paperwork for asbestos abatement or encapsulation projects with the Clark County Department of Air Quality Management in 2003.

Asbestos Lawsuits in Nevada

In 2009, a maintenance supervisor sued his former employer, Harrah’s Las Vegas Hotel and Casino, for allegedly exposing him to asbestos. Ernie Savannah requested $10 million in damages, claiming that he was never told about the asbestos threats in the casino.

According to the lawsuit, the casino knew asbestos was present in the hotel’s ceilings but did not reveal this to workers until eight floors of guest rooms had been renovated. Their work over the hotel’s showroom ceiling and in its casino entrance, laundry room and basement likely exposed employees — and patrons of the hotel and casino — to airborne asbestos.

Savannah later tested positive for asbestos in medical screenings and worries that asbestos fibers he brought home on his clothing were responsible for his daughter’s respiratory conditions. According to the plaintiff, two other Harrah’s properties conducted extensive renovation projects where asbestos may have been released into the air. He claims these projects were started without proper inspections or permits.

Another high-profile lawsuit was filed against Nevada Power of Las Vegas by former a plant operator. The plaintiff worked at the power station from 1957 to 1964 where he supervised plant shutdowns, a process that often involved the repair and maintenance of asbestos-containing boilers. The 2005 case resulted in a settlement for more than $2 million.

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Matt Mauney, Content Writer at Asbestos.com

Matt Mauney is an award-winning journalist with nearly a decade of professional writing experience. He joined Asbestos.com in 2016, and he spends much of his time reading, analyzing and reporting on mesothelioma research articles to ensure people in the mesothelioma community know the latest medical advancements. Prior to joining Asbestos.com, Matt was a reporter at the Orlando Sentinel. Matt also edits some of the pages on the website. He also holds a certificate in health writing from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Read More

Last Modified December 20, 2017
Sources
  1. Citydata - Nevada Industry. (2010). : Retrieved from: http://www.city-data.com/states/Nevada-Industry.html
  2. Department of Justice - Nevada Landfill Operator Agrees to $36 Million Plan to Close Landfill Site. (7 August 2008). : Retrieved from: http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2008/August/08-enrd-698.html
  3. Integral Consulting, Inc. - Draft Risk Assessment Work Plan. (May 2009). : Retrieved from: http://ndep.nv.gov/bmi/docs/risk_assessment-olin09.pdf
  4. Smith, R. (2004, February 9). Asbestos removal challenges may hamper hotel projects. Casino City Times. : Retrieved from: http://www.casinocitytimes.com/article/asbestos-removal-challenges-may-hamper-hotel-projects-54160
  5. Tonopah District. (n.d.). : Retrieved from: http://tin.er.usgs.gov/asbestos/show-asbestos.php?rec_id=392
  6. US Government Accountability Office - Flintkote Company Gypsum Products Division. (2011). : Retrieved from: http://www.gao.gov/special.pubs/gao-09-7sp/file254.html
  7. US Government Accountability Office - Pabco Gypsum/Johns-Manville/Fiberboard. (2011). : Retrieved from: http://www.gao.gov/special.pubs/gao-09-7sp/file253.html
  8. US Government Accountability Office - U.S. Gypsum Company. (2011). : Retrieved from: http://www.gao.gov/special.pubs/gao-09-7sp/file255.html
  9. Whitely, J. (2009, March 25). Former worker suing Harrah's in asbestos case. Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved from: Retrieved from: http://www.lvrj.com/news/41816707.html
  10. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. (2011). Underlying Cause of Death 1999-2008 [Data file]. CDC WONDER Online Database: Retrieved from: http://wonder.cdc.gov/ucd-icd10.html
  11. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. (2015, January). Underlying Cause of Death 1999-2013 on CDC WONDER Online Database. Retrieved from: http://wonder.cdc.gov/ucd-icd10.html

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