Hotel and Casino Officials Fret Over Asbestos in the Tropicana.

One of Las Vegas’ landmark casino/hotels is scheduled for demolition. First, Clarke County officials say asbestos in the facility must go.

Bally’s Corporation, owner of the Tropicana, plans to implode the complex in October to make way for construction of a $1.5 billion baseball ballpark for the Oakland A’s. Decades ago, federal regulators began to crack down on asbestos use, but many older buildings still have the materials.

“Older buildings — and the Tropicana was built in the 1950s — often contained asbestos,” said Walter Pacheco, an editor and content strategist with, an advocacy firm, sponsored by a series of law firms, that works to help educate the public about asbestos and mesothelioma. The EPA considers friable materials to be anything that contains more than 1 percent asbestos by weight or area.

Asbestos is a flame-resistant material that used to be very popular in construction, but tiny fibers can sometimes break off of it and get into our lungs, which can cause serious health issues, sometimes even cancer.

Asbestos Use in Las Vegas

The hotels and casinos that sprang up in the Las Vegas desert in the 1950s changed the state forever. These facilities also changed the way asbestos was used.

A casino/hotel in Las Vegas or Reno is a city unto itself. The hotel, casino, tourist attractions, and restaurants are all under one roof. These mammoth complexes are designed to keep everyone in one place for the duration of their stay.

These complexes usually include large event centers. Many people come to Las Vegas to see elaborate shows. Apropos of nothing, Whitney Houston’s mother Cissy was an Elvis backup singer during his Las Vegas residency.

Labyrinths of Vegas Hotels and Casinos Labyrinths Contained Large Amounts of Asbestos (Some Still Do).

As a result, a casino complex is extremely large. Before 1980, when most of these facilities were built, the halls were lined with asbestos to prevent fires. Asbestos also dominated attic insulation, electrical wire insulation, and pipe insulation.

Furthermore, asbestos is an essential ingredient in the neon sign-making process. Once the glass tubes are bent. Dried, and baked, they’re placed on asbestos sheets. Then, the sign-maker uses an asbestos pattern as a guid to design the sign. 

Like many other workers back in the day, neon sign-makers typically wore little or no protective equipment. Back then, asbestos providers insisted that this dangerous product was safe. So, they either didn’t provide proper protective equipment or didn’t tell workers why they should use it.

In the 1990s, Clark County sponsored an asbestos removal program. However, like many other government programs, this initiative fell short of its goal. As a result, when old casino/hotel complexes were demolished, most of them still had asbestos.

Frequently, these buildings were demolished with much fanfare. A demolition team placed explosive charges in the building, set them off, and as the building collapsed, a crowd cheered. The people in that crowd didn’t know that the dust cloud was, in fact, a toxic cloud laced with asbestos.

Asbestos Exposure Up Close 

The three types of asbestos-related activity in Las Vegas illustrate the three kinds of asbestos exposure victims nationwide.

  • Primary: The workers who built hotels and casinos in Las Vegas, as well as other commercial and residential structures throughout the country, handled asbestos-laced products. As mentioned, these workers generally knew nothing about the risk they faced. Asbestos providers had their chance to step up and do the right thing. Now, an asbestos exposure lawyer must get involved.
  • Secundaria: Neon sign makers didn’t work directly with asbestos, but this mineral was part of their everyday work activities. Sailors aboard Naval vessels are another good example of secondary exposure. Before 1980, the Navy loaded ships with asbestos. The men and women who served on these vessels were exposed to these fibers, often for months at a time during their deployments.
  • Tertiary: Those impressive demolition-related dust clouds were laced with asbestos. The dark cloud that blanketed much of New York City on 9/11 was also laced with asbestos, mostly from the Twin Towers. Asbestos-laced talc, a common ingredient in cosmetic and other everyday products, like crayons, is another example. We should also mention individual tertiary (take-home asbestos) victims. When Dad came home from his asbestos-related job, asbestos fibers came home with him.

Toxic asbestos fibers alter body chemistry in several ways. These mutations cause several kinds of cancer, such as mesothelioma.

Pleural mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive form of lung cancer, is a nasty kind of a nasty disease. Small tumors that form in the mesothelium (membrane separating the lung and heart) are almost impossible to spot. So, when initial cancer symptoms appear, such as a dry, hacking cough, most doctors assume the problem is COPD or another such condition.

These physical symptoms often don’t appear for at least fifty years. So, by the time doctors identify the illness and the type of cancer, it’s usually too late to treat it. Mesothelioma’s five-year survival rate is under 10 percent.

How You Can Protect Yourself in Dealing with Asbestos Exposure

Testing is the best way to prevent a serious asbestos exposure-related disease. Financial compensation is part of the puzzle as well. If a doctor says a victim has mesothelioma but the victim cannot afford expensive treatments, the accurate diagnosis is welcome, but ultimately meaningless.

Frequently, doctors don’t look for mesothelioma tumors. Instead, they look for telltale signs of these tumors, such as fluid buildup in the mesothelium. Doctors extract this fluid and examine it to determine if it contains cancer cells. 

As a bonus, thoracentesis (removing fluid from the chest) and pericardiocentesis (removing fluid from around the heart can determine the type of cancer, whether it’s mesothelioma or something else, like NSCLC (non-small cell lung cancer).

Many mesothelioma victims don’t have genetic or lifestyle red flags. They don’t have a family history of cancer or smoke heavily. Therefore, regular testing is essential,

Regular testing is also expensive. Cancer treatments, especially cutting-edge gene therapy treatments, are much more expensive. An asbestos exposure lawyer obtains the necessary money in court.

Most victims file civil claims. If an attorney proves the company negligently failed to warn people about the health risks of asbestos, substantial compensation is available. Most mesothelioma settlements are six-figure settlements.

Other options are usually available as well, such as a bankruptcy victim compensation fund claim. If the responsible company is no longer in bui=siness, a victim may claim a share of the $30-plus billion in asbestos trust funds. Other options include Social Security disability, workers’ compensation, legal action against the property owner, and VA disability.