Posts Tagged ‘Minnesota Department of Health’

Iron Range study finds four new cases of mesothelioma

2 Apr 2010 by Wendi Lewis under Events, News, Research/Treatment

This week the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (Meso Foundation) alerted me through a link on their web site to an update in the ongoing mesothelioma study in Minnesota. We have been following this study, which is investigating the high incidence of mesothelioma among miners in that state. According to a report in the Duluth News Tribune, the study has identified four new cases of mesothelioma.

The five-year study is being directed by the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Health, and funded by a $4.9 million grant from the Minnestoa state legislature. The new cases bring the total number of former miners diagnosed with mesothelioma to 63.

Mesothelioma has traditionally been linked exclusively to asbestos. However, an investigation into the link between taconite mining – which takes place in what is known as Minnesota’s , – began when state health officials noted an unusually high incidence of mesothelioma occurring in taconite mine workers. Mesothelioma occurs at twice the expected rate in the .

As part of the study, researchers are screening workers and their immediate families. To date, they have interviewed about 1,000 people, and would like to double that number.

Taconite is an iron-bearing, flint-like rock. Processed taconite pellets are used in the steel making industry.  To process taconite, the ore is ground into a fine powder, the iron is separated from the waste rock using strong magnets and the powdered iron concentrate is combined with bentonite clay and limestone and rolled into pellets. The Mesabi region of Minnesota is a major taconite production area.

More information is available at the project’s official web site for Minnesota Taconite Workers Health Study.

Pictured above are processed taconite pellets. Source: Wikipedia


Minnesota study of Iron Range workers continues

22 Jan 2010 by Wendi Lewis under News, Research/Treatment

minnesota iron range 100x100 Minnesota study of Iron Range workers continuesA recent report on WDIO-DT and WIRT-DT ABC stations 10 and 13 says approximately 1,000 miners and their families have been screened as part of an ongoing study into the link between taconite mining and mesothelioma. The study is being directed by the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Health, and funded by the Minnesota State Legislature, which allocated $4.9 million to the project in April 2008.

An investigation into the link between taconite mining – which takes place in what is known as Minnesota’s – began when state health officials noted an unusually high incidence of mesothelioma occurring in taconite mine workers. Mesothelioma is traditionally linked only to asbestos exposure. There is a theory that the taconite mineral may contain similar fibers to asbestos mineral.

Researchers began screening workers and their immediate family members in July. According to the news report, researchers say the study is on track. They would like to see about another 1,000 people, however. Analysis of the respiratory is estimated to take another 18 months.

This screening is one part of the comprehensive five-year study. There are four health studies associated with the project, including a mortality study under the direction of the Minnesota Department of Health and related to miner deaths; a cancer rate incidence study; a respiratory health assessment for miners or former miners (and expanded to include spouses or other close family that may have had secondary exposure to taconite dust), and an occupational exposure study.


Minnesota mesothelioma study calls for more participants

3 Oct 2009 by Wendi Lewis under News

university of minnesota 100x100 Minnesota mesothelioma study calls for more participantsUniversity of Minnesota researchers made a call in mid-September for more participants in its study of a possible link between taconite mines and mesothelioma. The five-year reserach program received $4.9 million in funding from the Minnesota state legislature in April 2008, and is being directed by the university in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Health.

The study was conceived as a result of an unusually high incidence of mesothelioma in taconite mine workers. Mesothelioma is currently linked exclusively to asbestos exposure. To day, more than 58 mine workers have been diagnosed with mesothelioma.

In July, researchers began health screenings of former taconite workers and their families. To date, a little more than 100 people have participated in the screenings, although reserachers hope to examine around 1,200 people during the course of the study.

The call for more participants apparently raised some concerns among area residents about the program’s success. However, a report by KQDS Fox 21 News assures the public that the study is progressing as planned, and that the call for more participants is a natural part of the process.

The news report quotes Nancy Tekautz, who is a field supervisor for the taconite workers respiratory health study, as saying her clinic is nearly booked. “We believe the response has been very good and we just want to encourage it to continue,” she told KQDS.

KXMB News reports study director Dr. Jeffrey Mandel has sent about 300 letters to a random sampling of current and former taconite workers, asking them to participate in the study. Participants will provide a medical and occupational history and submit to simple medical tests.

Researchers assure miners and their families that all study participants and individual medical information will remain confidential. For more information, visit the Minnesota Taconite Workers Health Study web site, or call the University of Minnesota toll free at 1-888-840-7590.


Update on Minnesota mesothelioma study set for tonight

18 Dec 2008 by Wendi Lewis under Events, News, Research/Treatment

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 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 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 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 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.


Mesothelioma claims 59th Iron Range miner

17 Jun 2008 by Wendi Lewis under News, Research/Treatment

The Minnesota Department of Health reported this week that a 59th case of mesothelioma was identified in an . This is the latest bad news in an ongoing examination of unusually high rates of mesothelioma among the miners. The state government recently approved $4.9 million to study the situation.

According to the Duluth News Tribune, the news of the latest mesothelioma diagnosis was discovered as the result of a comparison study done by the Minnesota Department of Health, comparing 72,000 miners against the Minnesota Cancer Surveillance System, which is the state’s cancer registry. The paper reports Health Department spokesperson Buddy Ferguson was unable to provide details about the 59th miner diagnosed, including whether or not this case of mesothelioma had resulted in an additional death.

A focus of the five-year study, which is under the direction of the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health, is to determine if there is a relationship between mesothelioma and the dust from taconite mining that is a central part of the mine operation. Currently, mesothelioma is known only to be linked to asbestos. Because of the long latency period of the disease, usually between 20 and 50 years, it is uncertain whether the mesothelioma cases could be caused by previous asbestos exposure on the part of affected individuals, or taconite dust, or both.

Minnesota Public Radio reported in June 2007 that the Department of Health had conducted a study in 2003 when it found 17 cases of mesothelioma among workers, and determined that 14 of the 17 cases had previous exposure to asbestos as well as taconite dust. Between 2003 and 2007, an additional 35 miners were diagnosed with mesothelioma.

According to WDIO-DT and WIRT-DT, ABC affiliates channels 10 and 13 serving the Northland area, approximately 1,200 current and former miners will undergo random respiratory and health screenings, beginning next summer, as part of the study. The station reports that this summer researchers will begin analyzing old health studies, and doctors will examine current asbestos exposure controls.

The research study group has been named the Taconite Workers Lung Health Partnership. Read more about the project at its web site.