Help us Launch our NEW Prevention Program!

Asbestos HazardTwo Meso Foundation supporters dedicated to mesothelioma prevention have pledged to donate up to $12,000 if we can match it. This would mean a total of $24,000 for the Meso Foundation to use for prevention, research, education, support, and advocacy.

We need your help reaching this goal! Please help us match the $12,000 pledge by donating online here. If you wish to donate by check or over the phone, please call us.

Thank you in advance for your support!

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Learn more about the Meso Foundation’s new prevention program at curemeso.org/asbestos.

Asbestos, its History, and its Dangerous Presence in Daily Life

Asbestos fiberAsbestos is the name given to a naturally occurring group of minerals. Strong, flexible, thin, and easily separated, these microscopic asbestos fibers are poor conductors of heat and do not conduct electricity. These natural properties make the mineral a versatile material, used in a number of building, manufacturing, and commercial applications. Unfortunately, asbestos is also a dangerous and deadly material that has been linked to mesothelioma.

The history of asbestos dates back over 3,000 years to when it was used in pottery, utensils, and home building. The early Romans and Greeks had many uses for this fiber, such as in table coverings, fire retardant clothing, and building materials. Throughout history, asbestos was used across cultures for various reasons. In India, asbestos was used to wrap the deceased. During the medieval period, asbestos lined suits of armor. Romans used asbestos for towels and head dressings, and ancient uses were in wicks for lamp lighting.

It was at the dawn of the industrial age that machinery, steam, and fire became catalysts for the more widespread use of asbestos. By the 1860’s, asbestos began appearing as insulation in the United States and Canada. Thousands of different uses for asbestos appeared by the middle of the 20th century. These included fire retardant coatings, concrete, bricks, pipes and fireplace cement, heat, fire, and acid resistant gaskets, pipe insulation, ceiling insulation, fireproof drywall, flooring, roofing, lawn furniture, drywall joint compound and on and on.

Unfortunately, the very elements that contribute to asbestos being such a good building material are also why it is so deadly. Once disturbed or separated, the thin, flexible asbestos fibers break easily, turning into microscopic dust particles. These fibers can hang in the air, and will stick to just about anything, including clothing and work tools. If these fibers are inhaled, the result can be a serious health problem, such as asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma.

Due to the widespread use of asbestos in the past and its regulated use that continues today, asbestos is still present in daily life. The EPA estimates that asbestos is still present in tens of millions of homes, government buildings, schools, and has also been found naturally-occurring in the soil in several locations in the United States, sometimes in very close proximity to inhabited areas. According to the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), an estimated 1.3 million construction employees continue to be occupationally exposed to asbestos. When disturbed, asbestos particles become airborne and are easily inhaled. No amount of exposure is deemed safe.

To learn more about asbestos and its history, visit curemeso.org/asbestos.

Meso Foundation to speak at BoRit Asbestos Superfund Citizen Advisory Group Meeting

Diane Blackburn-ZambettiDiane Blackburn-Zambetti, the Director of Policy and Prevention Education at the Meso Foundation, will present an educational program titled “Asbestos and Your Health” at the BoRit Asbestos Superfund Citizen Advisory Group Meeting in Ambler, Pennsylvania tonight. This program will discuss anatomy, six types of asbestos, asbestos products, asbestos in the environment, asbestos diseases, symptoms, treatments, prevention and proper communication with your healthcare provider.

Ambler has a long history with asbestos, dating back to 1875 when a parcel of land was the home to an asbestos insulation factory. Over the years, this land has been separated into multiple parcels. The Bast parcel is located adjacent to a Superfund site and is the proposed site of a multi-unit apartment complex.

“If constructed, this apartment complex will be the first-ever residential housing project permitted on an asbestos waste disposal site in the United States,” Diane stated.

“In the year 2015, we are still suffering asbestos exposures from an insulation factory dating back to 1875. If this complex is approved, we will see asbestos disease for many decades into Ambler’s future,” she added.

The Citizens Advisory Group works with the EPA to find viable solutions to the asbestos pollution on the BoRit Asbestos Superfund site located at the confluence of Whitpain, Upper Dublin and Ambler townships. The Citizens Advisory Group is instrumental in protecting the residents of Ambler, and all residents are encouraged to participate in this open meeting.

Diane will speak at the meeting along with Keith Cengel, MD, PhD, who is a mesothelioma patient and radiation oncologist working in Philadelphia, PA.

This meeting will commence at 6:30pm tonight, Wednesday, April 1, 2015, at the Upper Dublin Township Building located at 801 Loch Ash Road, Fort Washington, PA 19034.

To learn more about the Meso Foundation’s new prevention program and Diane’s role at the organization, visit curemeso.org/asbestos.

Announcing the Meso Foundation’s New Prevention Program

Asbestos HazardIn conjunction with Asbestos Awareness Week, which takes place from April 1-7, the Meso Foundation announced the formation of its new prevention program to complement its existing work in mesothelioma research, education, support, and advocacy.

“As part of the Meso Foundation’s mission, we want to eliminate harmful exposures and extinguish fears of diseases related to asbestos, including mesothelioma,” said the Meso Foundation’s executive director, Mary Hesdorffer, Nurse Practitioner.

“By uniting globally with top experts, the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation strives to be the leader in mesothelioma prevention, taking one additional step towards eradicating this disease,” she added.

The EPA estimates that asbestos is still present in tens of millions of homes, government buildings, schools, and has also been found naturally-occurring in the soil in several locations in the United States, sometimes in very close proximity to inhabited areas. According to the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), an estimated 1.3 million construction employees continue to be occupationally exposed to asbestos. When disturbed, asbestos particles become airborne and are easily inhaled. No amount of exposure is deemed safe.

In the United States, many workers in a number of industries and occupations, their families, and even people with no history of occupational exposure were exposed and continue to be exposed to asbestos.

The Meso Foundation has hired Diane Blackburn-Zambetti as its new director of policy and prevention education. Diane has developed significant first-hand experience with the impacts of these conditions through her 30 year career as a radiation therapist. She has treated many types of cancers during her tenure, including mesothelioma. The most inspirational patient of her career would be her father, Dale Blackburn, whose pleural mesothelioma diagnosis in 2002 became her driving force. Diane is OSHA certified and has been educating trade union members about asbestos and its dangers since 2005.

The Meso Foundation will implement this program by:

  • Bringing together top environmental and medical experts who share the common goal of eradicating mesothelioma;
  • Creating and delivering educational programs to high-risk individuals and the general population about asbestos and other known carcinogens. This will emphasize knowledge as the key to exposure prevention;
  • Instilling a thought process of “Stop – Look – Think” to eliminate reactive decisions, prevent unnecessary exposures and take-home exposures;
  • Creating an accessible base of information regarding possible asbestos-containing materials and proper asbestos-containing material remediation;
  • Funding research into early detection of mesothelioma and at-risk populations.

To learn more about the Meso Foundation’s prevention program, visit curemeso.org/asbestos.

Mesothelioma Researcher Receives Prestigious Grant from Department of Defense

Marjorie ZaudererMarjorie Zauderer, MD, is a medical oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center specializing in the care of lung cancer and mesothelioma patients, and serves as a member of the Meso Foundation’s Science Advisory Board. Recently, Dr. Zauderer was granted the Career Development Award to fund her mesothelioma research project.

Dr. Zauderer received the Career Development Award for her current research project involving the role of the BAP 1 gene (BRCA associated protein-1) in mesothelioma. Inherited mutations in the BAP1 gene have been shown to predispose patients to malignant pleural mesothelioma. “A better understanding of this gene could mean a better understanding of mesothelioma and how it develops in patients,” Zauderer states.

Dr. Zauderer began working on this project three years ago and has been gathering specimens and samples throughout this time. She predicts that enough samples will be collected within the next year or two to begin analysis that could yield significant insights and statistics. Her goal in 3 to 5 years is to have a plausible drug that has already completed phase 1 testing or is ready to begin phase 1 testing in clinical trials.

In an interview, Dr. Zauderer expressed her passion for her work, citing her many college application essays that she recently came across. “All my applications were about how I wanted to use genetics to help medicine. 20 years later, that’s actually what I do,” Zauderer states.

The Career Development Award provides funding from the Department of Defense to support a specific research project. Funding is provided to the selected project over a three year period, during which certain research components must be met and specific goals achieved. Mesothelioma is a disease of interest to the Department of Defense, as an estimated one third of mesothelioma patients either served in the Navy or worked in shipyards.

Learn more about Marjorie Zauderer at curemeso.org.