Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - In a recent press release, the Perelman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania announced the receipt of a National Institutes of Health grant that will assist them in designing an educational program to help the residents who live in the Philadelphia suburb of Ambler, an area that was long the site of a busy asbestos factory.
The press release highlights the specifics of the grant, which is being presented to the Center of Excellent in Environmental Toxicology at the university’s school of medicine. The $1.2 million grant will be used to develop a program based on the communities’ history of asbestos products manufacturing and resulting asbestos exposure.
Asbestos manufacturing in West and South Ambler began back in the 1880s and continued until the 1970s. As a result, both former and current residents face a number of health threats related to the toxic mineral, including the potential development of the cancer known as mesothelioma. As a matter of fact, state records from the Department of Health show that there has been a marked increase in cases of mesothelioma in the Ambler area as compared to other parts of the state. Grant recipients hope that they can shed some light in regards to this increase and perhaps better understand the health risks to current residents and possible remedies as well, the press release notes.
“We know there is an existing health risk, but that’s just one piece of the problem; these communities suffered great social and economic consequences when the asbestos factory closed, and today, they are still trying to recover from that loss,” said Frances K. Barg, Ph.D., associate professor of Family Medicine and Community Health, and principal investigator for the project. “Our hope is that this program will help residents to better understand the history of their community through the eyes of those who lived here, while giving them an opportunity to help create a healthier, safer neighborhood.”