After nearly five years of study, researchers heading up the Minnesota Taconite Workers Health Study have determined that for every year worked in a taconite mine, a person’s risk of developing mesothelioma increased by approximately three percent. However, scientists are still searching for definitive proof that taconite exposure causes mesothelioma.
It’s a fine line, but lead researcher Jeffrey Mandel, M.D., M.P.H., of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, which is directing the study, says right now researchers can only confirm that taconite exposure is “associated” with mesothelioma. However, people who work as taconite miners are still developing mesothelioma at higher than expected rates, when compared to the general Minnesota population.
In a bit of good news, the study indicates that most cases where mesothelioma has been diagnosed likely originated years ago, when there was less awareness of worker safety. They say that updated worker safety systems and methods for processing taconite ore help protect workers from the potentially life-threatening dust.
Source: University of Minnesota