Blog Archives

Searching for the Magic Bullet Against Cancer Caused by Asbestos: One Step Closer?

By Sbarro Health Research Organization (SHRO), http://www.shro.org

Mesothelioma is a very aggressive cancer associated with asbestos exposure, which is usually diagnosed in an advanced stage. So far no therapeutic strategy has proven effective against this deadly cancer and the prognosis remains very poor with only few exceptions.

In December, the research team of Antonio Giordano, an internationally renowned pathologist, Director and Founder of the Sbarro Health Research Organization in Philadelphia, PA (www.shro.org) and Professor of Pathology and Oncology at the University of Siena, Italy, published two separate studies aiming to address the urgent need to identify possible new methods for mesothelioma treatment. Read More

Geologists find natural asbestos fibers in Nevada

By Henry Brean, Las Vegas Review-Journal

Steve Andrascik/Las Vegas Review-Journal

Steve Andrascik/Las Vegas Review-Journal

Removing asbestos from an old building can be hazardous and expensive. So what happens if the ground outside is covered with the stuff for miles around?

That’s what a team of UNLV geologists is trying to figure out after the surprise discovery of potentially toxic, asbestos-type minerals in rocks and dust from Boulder City to the southeastern edge of the Las Vegas Valley.

University of Nevada, Las Vegas geology professor Brenda Buck said this marks the first discovery of naturally occurring asbestos fibers in Southern Nevada.

A peer-reviewed study detailing the find was published last month in the journal of the Soil Science Society of America.

So how worried should everyone be?

“At this point we know enough to know there is a hazard. We don’t know what the risk is,” Buck told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “There’s a lot of work that needs to be done. Until we know more, it would be a good idea to avoid dust from those areas.”

That could be a tall order.

The study area takes in all of Boulder City and a wide swath of the Eldorado Valley, with tendrils that reach to the shore of Lake Mead and into the oldest parts of Henderson.

“It’s not everywhere, but I think you’re going to have a hard time not finding it,” Buck said. “In every sample we looked at we found it. We found it pretty easily, too. I didn’t have to look very hard.”

For one test, Buck spent about three hours walking her horse along a dirt road in Boulder City. When she was done, she found asbestos fibers on her pants and her shoes.

“The last thing we want to do is upset people or cause a panic. But on the other side, we don’t want to give people assurances we can’t give,” said UNLV geologist Rodney Metcalf, who partnered with Buck on the study. “We can’t in good conscience say there’s no problem.”

The long, thin minerals were forged roughly 13 million years ago in the roots of volcanoes, also known as plutons. “Boulder City sits on top of one of these plutons,” Metcalf said.

The fibers have been weathering from the ground for the past 12 million years or so, giving them plenty of time to spread out, Buck said.

She specializes in something called medical geology, basically the study of the health impacts of minerals. She was in the midst of sampling arsenic in the dust blowing from Nellis Dunes when she came across a fibrous mineral in one of her samples. She later started talking to Metcalf about the asbestos-like fibers he was studying in northwestern Arizona, and the two decided to go looking for trouble in similar rock deposits in Southern Nevada.

What they mostly found was a mineral called actinolite, one of six types of asbestos regulated as a toxic substance by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Read More

Ashland County may consider banning explosives near rocks with asbestos

By Mike Simonson, Wisconsin Public Radio

The Ashland County Board may consider a ban on explosives that disturb asbestos in rock formations, including at the proposed iron ore mine site.

Ashland County Board Chairman Pete Russo says he’s getting lots of calls from citizens who are worried about asbestos and mesothelioma, a fatal lung cancer caused by airborne asbestos fibers. Recent reports by Northland College geoscience professor Tom Fitz and the Department of Natural Resources have found that asbestos fibers are in at least part of the ore body that Gogebic Taconite (GTAC) hopes to mine.

The DNR says it needs more information before they know if that ore body is dangerous, while Fitz calls the asbestos lethal.

Russo has called a special meeting of the Mining Impact Committee Wednesday, which will hear testimony from Fitz and the DNR. Then, he says, the committee will consider an ordinance which would ban using explosives on asbestos rock. Read More