Tag Archives: science

asbestos and what’s fair

24 Jul

Asbestos is a known killer. Exposure to it increases the risk of lung cancer in both smokers and non-smokers. If you’re a smoker, your chances of getting lung cancer go up 1000x. It also increases risk of mesothelioma, which pretty much only happens to people exposed to asbestos.

The problem with asbestos is that it’s made of tiny fibers, which lodge in the lungs. The body isn’t good at dealing with foreign substances – can’t kill it like it would kill a bacteria, can’t break it down because of it’s synthetic make up – so it just engulfs it then stores it away. It builds up, and the reaction surrounding cells have to it can cause major (i.e. fatal) problems down the road.

Asbestos doesn’t just affect people exposed to it directly at work. It also increases cancer risks in the families of people who have been exposed to asbestos, even if the family members themselves weren’t directly exposed. It’s because asbestos fibers stay on the clothes of the exposed people, and they in turn go home and expose their families to it, along with anyone else who has a lot of contact with them.

Asbestos used to be used in developed countries, like Canada, as an insulator. Once the detrimental health effects became obvious, asbestos was banned from being used anymore. Many institutions have tried to replace asbestos in buildings, but in many cases it’s just left alone because disturbing it would put the people removing it at risk.

Asbestos is a major export from Canada, particularly from the city in Quebec called … Asbestos. Exports go to developing countries that have not banned it’s use, like India and China. While people who work with Asbestos in Canada are wearing full body suits, workers in India and China are equipped with just bandanas. Unfair? Or their fault?

It’s been tough times for everyone, especially small towns without diverse industries to rely on. Asbestos is a small town in Quebec which took a big hit when its asbestos mine was shut down earlier this year. But now that it’s reopening, thanks to this government grant.

Check out this quick-read article  written by a Canadian senator on what the dealio is on the thing called asbestos, a town called Asbestos, developing countries, and what’s good for Canada versus what’s right.

the link: http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/Asbestos+gets+lease+death/6895798/story.html#ixzz21Yh1tVKV

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Science: It’s a Girl Thing!

25 Jun

“The commission said that the video had to ‘speak their language to get their attention’…”

This video brought tears of offense to my eyes.

Blind mole rats and my first citation

22 Jan

I published part of my MSc research last April. It was my first and only paper, and had taken about an extra year or two after my MSc finished to wrap up all the revisions, run new experiments, write and revise again. I remember being in a hotel room in China during my time on a cleft-lip surgical mission, writing scripts and starting programs on Brian’s computers back at Mac. It passed through three rounds of reviewing and on the final round, one of the reviewers still didn’t agree that the findings made sense but s/he also didn’t seem to understand the experiments. Thankfully, the editor of the journal stepped in and told us it was accepted anyway. It’s tough writing about population genetics and computational biology. It’s like explaining math without using numbers.

So once in a while, I like to look at how many times the paper has been downloaded. Ya, nerdy and kind of self-absorbed, but you’d do it too. After all, many people google themselves (I do that too, but thanks to a Singaporean pop star it doesn’t satisfy my ego), and many others start personal blogs (ahem). Good thing there’s such a fuss about stopping internet censorship because how else would we find out so much stuff about ourselves?

Instead of studying Pharm, I checked on my paper’s views again. And my paper has been cited! The paper citing me is called “Is Evolution of Blind Mole Rats Determined by Climate Oscillations?”. Oh academia. Bonus points for it being a paper about climate change (my paper had nothing to do with climate change).

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