Researchers who have begun a five-year, $4.9 million study into an alarming number of mesothelioma cases in Minnesota will present a progress report tonight at the Mountain Iron Community Center. The study, which is operating under the direction of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, focuses in particular on Iron Range miners. The Minnesota legislature approved funds for the research project in April.
The study is the result of concern about a high rate of mesothelioma among Iron Range workers, with 59 identified cases to date. According to a report in the Duluth News Tribune, initial data indicates 17 miners who developed mesothelioma between 1988 and 1996. Then, in 2007, it was revealed that the Minnesota Department of Health had additional information about 35 more cases of mesothelioma among the mine workers.
Mesothelioma is thought to be caused exclusively by exposure to asbestos, but the Minnesota study is examining the possibility of a link between exposure to the taconite dust released in the Iron Range mines, and mesothelioma. According to the News Tribune, researchers are conducting health screenings for miners and their spouses. They hope to screen about 2,000 people within six to nine months.
Tonight’s program will share initial findings and inform the public about the progress of health screenings, and opportunities for involvement in the screenings. It also will feature a presentation about the geological aspects of the Iron Range mine area.
If you’d like to attend, the meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the Mountain Iron Community Center, at 8586 Enterprise Drive. The presentation should last about an hour.