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Notes & Letters

Waiting to Inhale
Waiting to Inhale


There must be something in the air, because this month’s mailbag is rife with anxiety about it — whether it’s floating cat germs, airborne asbestos or rogue, munchie-inducing pot clouds coming to turn your children into li’l stoners.

Our February story on asbestos in Boulder City, “ Waiting to Inhale,” is still drawing attention — and worry. Reader Stephanie Rae writes, “I grew up in Boulder City, as did my parents and their siblings. This story has made me start thinking about my parents and my uncles and aunt, five out of six of them have or have had cancer; two have died, two are battling and one is in remission, only one has been cancer-free.

“My oldest uncle, John, died from brain cancer. My mother was the second to be diagnosed with cancer — breast cancer. My aunt: breast cancer as well as melanoma. My dad, gastroesophageal cancer, he died as well. My uncle, salivary cancer. When my dad was diagnosed, battling and dying, I was convinced his cancer was related to growing up in Boulder City and working in the Las Vegas Valley. I let it go. I am a nurse and I know in my heart that it has everything thing to do with where they grew up, lived and worked.

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“The story was published as I found out that my mother’s breast cancer is back, metastasized to many areas, stage 4. I can’t stop thinking about how living, growing up in the Vegas Valley and Boulder City has impacted my family. And I can’t help but wonder how much more there really is to this story, and whether there is a greater impact to be made in helping prevent more families from experiencing such loss and suffering by preventing stirring up the asbestos in the soil, by decreasing exposure.”



Meanwhile, commenter Wen responded to our April story, “ The Death of Killing,” on no-kill pet activists’ criticisms of the Animal Foundation, which runs the county’s animal shelter. Wen fears the bad side effects of good intentions: “The problem with no-kill gets horribly exacerbated with cats, when you have cats hoarded outdoors with no respect for property rights of neighbors or the impact the animals have on local wildlife, or the role the cats play as vectors of disease transmission to humans. Rabies, toxoplasmosis, typhus, and even plague are on the rise throughout the country because of the increase in feral roaming cats in communities. There are 70 million free-roaming homeless cats in the U.S. They are causing extinctions in Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand and other places around the world. The irresponsible feeding attracts other animals like skunks, possums, coyotes, and raccoons, and increases the potential for disease transmission from and to the cats.

“No-kill may make people feel better in the short term, but it is a much less humane approach to the pet overpopulation problem when it comes to cats. Don’t let feral cat colonies take over our neighborhoods. Cat containment is the answer. Euthanasia is not cruel for the individual animal. It’s just the vast numbers from uncontrolled breeding that makes humans uncomfortable. Why do we have no problem slaughtering millions of cows, chickens, lambs, rats, snakes, possums, raccoons, and anything else you can think of, but want to elevate a species that breeds like a rat (first litter as early as four months and three to four litters a year) to some kind of protected status? Look at the effects of toxoplasmosis. Not just for pregnant women and their fetuses, but its relationship to schizophrenia, dementia, Alzheimer’s and autism. Cats are the definitive host for the parasite and they shed it in their feces. Vegas is a big sand box — don’t let it become a litter box.”


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Our story about skeptics of the medical marijuana gold rush, “ Budding issue,” drew out other skeptics — and cautious supporters. Launce Rake (an occasional Desert Companion contributor), writes: “There are two things that are demonstrably true: Most ‘medical’ users just want to get high, legally. But there also is no doubt that some people — children with epilepsy, for example — get significant relief not from psychoactive products, but other forms of medical cannabis. The problem is that research into the medical uses is effectively restricted by federal law, and that’s silly.”

But will the seeming avalanche of pot dispensaries be legit pharmacies or more like inner-city vape lounges? Reader Scott Swank is betting on the latter: “The cluster of 20 approved facilities around Las Vegas Blvd. between Sahara and Charleston does not look particularly focused on health care to me,” he writes. “Compare that with one approved facility in the western half of the city: Wards 2, 4 and 6.”