A screening program staffed by ophthalmologists, ophthalmology residents, ophthalmic assistants, social workers and Chinese-speaking volunteers and directed at a Chinese immigrant community, was conducted at the Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto. The Chinese population had been hesitant to use our hospital facilities and we hoped to overcome their fears, as well as to detect previously undiagnosed ocular problems. The program succeeded in finding many eye problems, some serious, and in encouraging this immigrant group to come for proper medical care. We describe the method of setting up and conducting such an undertaking, which involved the Departments of Ophthalmology and Social work, hospital administrators and volunteers from the community.
Canadian chrysotile (white asbestos) could be a paradigm for those agents that are successfully exploited commercially long after they have been found to be lethal. Mining started in the late 1870s, and reports of disability and death followed in Britain (1898), in France (1906), and Italy (1908), but it was not until 1955 that Canada acknowledged asbestosis in its asbestos miners and millers. Even when shortly after asbestos was shown to be carcinogenic, Canadian Public Relations experts assisted by their scientists exculpated chrysotile by deeming other agents to have been causal.
The PR techniques that have been successfully used in the defense of chrysotile are reviewed, to forewarn scientists involved in formulating public health policy for similar agents, as to the tricks that will be played on them.