Taking It to the Bank: Reflections on the 2012 IAHFIAW Conference

Last week I had the distinct pleasure of attending here in Washington D.C. the International Association of Heat & Frost Insulators and Allied Workers Conference, a one-day event calling together physicians, scientists and researchers to announce their partnership with Mt. Sinai Medical Center in establishing a tissue bank (Insulators Tissue Bank or ITB).

Representing the Meso Foundation, I was delighted to be a part of this event that so closely aligns with our interests. This tissue bank is being established as a repository of asbestos-related-tumor tissue specimens and fluid samples from a highly exposed population of asbestos insulators in order to support research that aims to better understand the mechanisms of asbestos-induced cancer, and to develop interventions and cures for asbestos-related cancers, such as mesothelioma.

The Insultators Union General President, James A. Grogan, is currently issuing a call to action to approximately 8,000 insulators to participate by agreeing to donate tissue samples should they be diagnosed and treated for an asbestos-related disease.  He plans to soon expand participation in the ITB to other trade unions that also have high incidence of asbestos-related disease. Continue reading “Taking It to the Bank: Reflections on the 2012 IAHFIAW Conference” »

A Social Media Moment: The Importance of Sharing on Facebook

With my arrival to the Meso Foundation, I have decided to offer a new segment from time to time here on the blog. With “A Social Media Moment” we offer a quick tutorial and commentary on getting the most out of social media in order to raise awareness in the pursuit of a cure. —TM

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At the Meso Foundation we are all about mesothelioma awareness, and in our social media initiative one of our most powerful and influential tools is Facebook. With both a Group Page and a Fan Page, we are reaching out to the world with our message and advocacy, but in the brief time I’ve been on board I have noticed a trend that tends to go overlooked in one of our most powerful platforms. What I see is people going to our respective pages and “Liking” what they see (which is great – please keep doing that!) but not sharing what they like.

What’s the difference? Quite a bit, actually.

First, you’ll hear many seasoned social media experts go on (and on…) about the importance (or, no kidding — Return on Investment) of a “Like” on Facebook. The “Like” is very important in that it is easily trackable, and when you like a page or a news item — be it our own Foundation’s page, a friend’s funny picture of the day, or a song shared via Spotify — it is a trackable statistic. At a glance, you can see how many times your page or news item has been liked, and your own profile page lets your network know that you have liked something today. Continue reading “A Social Media Moment: The Importance of Sharing on Facebook” »

From the Headlines: Pro-Asbestos Lobbying Institute Announces Its Closing

Part of the struggle (and personal anger) in recognizing the serious threat of mesothelioma is a counter argument from lobbyists that asbestos, even in light of scientific studies that contradicts otherwise, is not a hazardous material if conditions are safe and optimal. This argument came to a rest in Montreal, Quebec, for one pro-lobbying group who announced they would be shutting down operations permanently.

As reported by the Ottawa Citizen, the government funded pro-asbestos lobby group Chrysotile Institute issued a notice over the weekend that they would be closing its doors and disbanding. Established in 1984, the Chrysotile Institute promoted an agenda of “as long as asbestos is handled in a safe and controlled manner, it causes little risk to workers.” Now, with this announcement, anti-asbestos interests are hoping for a trend to begin, turning arguments to their favor.

Parliament Member Pat Martin (NDP), a longtime critic of Canada’s asbestos industry and former miner himself, refers to the institute’s closing as a “death knell” for asbestos mining in his country.

“I see it as a real tipping point in the movement to get Canada out of the asbestos industry. Another demonstration of the death rattle of the asbestos industry.”

The significance of the Institute’s announcement of their dissolving released on Saturday, April 28 —International Workers’ Memorial Day, a day of commemoration for workers injured and killed around the world — was not lost on MP Martin.

“I’ve lost an awful lot of friends and colleagues to asbestos in my time as an asbestos miner and a carpenter in the building trades,” he told the Ottawa Citizen. “It was very poignant for me to learn that [the institute was closing] on the very day of mourning for injured and fallen workers with the flags at half mast – it was very, very fitting.”

In light of statistics such as the World Health Organization estimating that globally, more than 100,000 people die from asbestos-related illnesses and protests across Asia against asbestos exports, news such as this provides a touch of optimism that perhaps people are sitting up to take notice and the voices raised in awareness and opposition are finally being heard. We at the Meso Foundation also recognize the significance of the Institutes to close on such an important day. Perhaps this was, on the Chrysotile Institute’s part, a message they wanted to send.

Pure speculation, I know, but one can hope.