Minnesota researchers continue to look for links between taconite and mesothelioma

19 Sep 2013 by Wendi Lewis under News, Research/Treatment

minnesota iron range 100x100 Minnesota researchers continue to look for links between taconite and mesotheliomaAfter 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.

The study was established through a $4.9 million funding from the Minnesota State Legislature in response to the alarming number of mesothelioma cases coming out of the area.

Researchers hope to complete in-depth analysis of the study results and release a comprehensive report outlining the relationship between taconite dust and mesothelioma in a few months.

Source: University of Minnesota

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