Mesothelioma is seen almost exclusively in people who have been exposed to asbestos. In a 2003 study, state researchers identified 17 diagnosed cases of mesothelioma in a group of 72,000 people who worked in Minnesota's iron mining industry between the 1930s and 1982.
Further analysis found 35 additional cases of mesothelioma in that group, raising the total number to 52, the department said in a prepared statement. Officials said the additional cases aren't surprising because it can take 40 or 50 years to develop mesothelioma after exposure to asbestos.
"Between 1988 and 2005, 136 cases of mesothelioma were diagnosed in men who live in northeastern Minnesota- more than twice the expected number." [Minnesota Health Department]
“The mesothelioma issue has been with us for a long time,” Health Commissioner Dianne Mandernach said in a statement. “There are important, unresolved questions that we need to address, and we believe this new study will help us provide some of the answers.”
That study is projected to cost as much as $1 million over three years. The state will seek federal funding from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and other sources.
The second study, estimated to cost $250,000, would assess health risks associated with airborne mineral fragments from ore mined in some parts of the region. Officials hope to set airborne exposure limits to protect the public from potential health effects, the department said.
I can save the taxpayers millions of dollars in needless research! These miners are being exposed to asbestos. Give them the protective equipment they need if they are being exposed to asbestos. Let's ban asbestos nationwide and start treating this stuff like the toxic substance that it is. - ST