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Minn. study examines workers’ high rates of mesothelioma diagnosis

December 7th, 2007

The Minnesota Health Department has released a new study examining the cause of the high number of workers from the northern part of the state who have received a mesothelioma diagnosis. Citizens of northern Minnesota develop mesothelioma symptoms at roughly twice the rate of the rest of the country.

The study examined 58 workers who were employed at one of the seven taconite mines which operated in Minnesota’s Iron Range. Taconite is a mineral containing low-grade iron ore that is used in the production of steel.

The study found that although all but one of the workers first developed the symptoms of mesothelioma between 30 and 60 years after they were exposed to taconite dust in the mines, the lengths of their exposure varied considerably. About one-quarter of the workers were employed at the mines for a year or less, while another quarter worked there for more than 30 years. The study also found little correlation between where the miners were employed and their mesothelioma diagnosis.

Researchers hope that the findings of the new study will help in crafting three large scale studies into the link between Iron Range workers and mesothelioma which are planned for up coming years. These studies will examine factors that may have contributed to the 58 men receiving a mesothelioma diagnosis, including whether they were the victims of asbestos exposure outside of work. Exposure to asbestos is the most common cause of mesothelioma symptoms.

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