Posts Tagged ‘School of Public Health’

Mesothelioma claims 59th Iron Range miner

17 Jun 2008 by 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 Iron Range 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 Iron Range 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 Iron Range 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 Iron Range 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 study group has been named the Taconite Workers Lung Health Partnership. Read more about the project at its web site.

Minnesota examines taconite meso danger

12 Jun 2008 by under News

In its last legislative session, Minnesota approved $4.9 million for research into the epidemic among its Iron Range workers. To date, 58 people have died of . Governor Tim Pawlenty signed the bill, which funds a five-year study of the taconite mining industry and the mineral’s asbestos-like properties as a likely cause for the extremely high rate of among workers.

Minnesota Public Radio reports that researchers and politicians will meet today to discuss progress in establishing the study. According to the report, the School of Public Health is assessing the health of active and retired miners, reviewing death certificates, and delving into the 58 deaths from mesothelioma. The Natural Resources Research Institute is analyzing iron ore samples and dust in the air in Iron Range communities, to see how closely they match asbestos dust, says MPR.

According to the Iron Mining Association of Minnesota web site, the industry’s six iron mining and processing operations produce two-thirds of the iron ore used to make steel in the United States. Combined, they represent a $4 billion capital investment and employ nearly 4,000 men and women. These companies contribute over $1.5 billion each year to the state’s economy in the form of purchases, wages and benefits, royalties and taxes.These companies contribute over $1.5 billion each year to the state’s economy in the form of purchases, wages and benefits, royalties and taxes.

Taconite is an extremely hard rock that contains about 25 percent iron, according to an IMA fact sheet. It is found on the Mesabi Range in northeastern Minnesota, which extends 110 miles in a southwesterly direction. After World War II, when natural high-quality iron ore deposits were beginning to be depleted, two companies began making major investments in taconite, and began producing pellets in 1956 and 1957, and a decade later taconite was in production in all of the area’s six mines.

To date, Minnesota mines have produced more than 1.2 billion tons of taconite pellets, IMA reports.

Information about taconite on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources web site says “taconite saved Minnesota’s iron ore mining industry.”

How heartbreaking that Minnesotans are only now finding out the cost.

Canadian labor group supports asbestos ban

27 May 2008 by under Events, News

canada flag Canadian labor group supports asbestos banCanada is one of the few countries that still mines and produces , which it exports to countries such as India, Indonesia and Pakistan for use in construction material. Quebec, where Canada’s two mines are located, has one of the highest rates of mesothelioma in the world.

This week, according to a report by the Canadian HR Reporter, the Canadian Labour Congress is calling for a ban on the mining, and a financial support plan for the approximately 700 miners who would be affected by the industry closure.

The call for the ban comes despite delays in making public the results of a scientific study examining the health risks of asbestos. According to, “Michel Arsenault, president of the Quebec Federation of Labour, in February convinced his colleagues at the Canadian Labour Congress not to call for a ban on asbestos mining until after the study was completed and made public.”

The study, conducted under the direction of Health Canada, was begun last November by a team of seven scientific and medical experts. According to CBC, the report was completed in March and promised to be released in weeks. Experts who worked on the project are objecting to the delay in releasing the report.

CBC quotes , head of the School of Public Health at the University of Illinois, who worked on the study, as saying, “I want to make the record clear that nothing in the report would argue against the sensibility of an asbestos ban in Canada or for that matter anywhere else in the world.”

The CBC report points out that asbestos has been called a “deadly threat” by the International Labour Organization, the World Health Organization, the International Association for Cancer Research and many more health agencies.

Minnesota meso funding moving in Senate

26 Mar 2008 by under News, Organizations, Research/Treatment

The Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minn., reported yesterday that a Minnesota Senate committee is backing the proposed $4.7 million to be designated for mesothelioma research. The rare cancer has been reported in an unusually high number of cases in northeastern Minnesota, in association with a taconite mine.

The state Health Department in Minnesota has documented close to 60 deaths from mesothelioma in the Iron Range mining area.

According to the story published by The Globe, “The dean of the University of Minnesota’s [Professor John Finnegan, Jr.] is calling it ‘the best shot we’ve had in 25 years’ to find answers about a lung cancer that might be connected to mining taconite.”

If approved by the Minnesota legislature, the money would fund a combined study led by the University of Minnesota and including state health, natural resources and pollution control officials. The study would take about five years to conclude.

The Globe reports that the Senate bill has at least one more committee stop, and a House plan is also progressing. It says the plan faces some opposition from the business lobby, which is taking issue with the reliance on a workers compensation fund to pay for the research.