Although he died of cancer in 2013 before he could complete his life’s work, researcher Phillip Cook will have an impact on the evaluation of asbestos-like mineral fibers and how they affect the body. Shortly after the scientist, who worked at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for much of his career, passed away, his colleague decided the research must be completed. The results create a way to evaluate which fibrous minerals are more or less toxic. (more…)
Posts Tagged ‘taconite’
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced Monday that asbestos is present in a rock sample taken from the proposed site of an iron ore mine in Ashland and Iron counties. The asbestoform fibers were found in the mineral grunerite. Asbestos and asbestoform fibers present a danger to public health if they are inhaled or ingested, which may result in the development of mesothelioma. (more…)
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. (more…)
Another state is investigating the possible link between minerals mining and mesothelioma. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is trying to determine if asbestos-like fibers could be released from iron ore mining or sampling in the Penokee Range. It involves a naturally occurring mineral called grunerite. Grunerite can appear in a fibrous crystal form. (more…)
The results of a five-year, $4.9-million study into the link between taconite mining in Minnesota’s Iron Range and mesothelioma provided a mixed bag of results. Scientists confirmed a definite link between the taconite industry and an increased risk of mesothelioma, a deadly cancer that has previously been associated exclusively with asbestos exposure. But the study does not adequately answer the question of “why” or “how.” (more…)
A public meeting has been scheduled for April 12, 2013, to discuss findings of the Minnesota Taconite Workers Health Study. The study was established to determine the causes of an unusually high number of cases of mesothelioma among taconite mine workers. (more…)
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 Iron Range 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 Iron Range, – 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 Iron Range.
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 Iron Range 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
A recent report on WDIO-DT and WIRT-DT ABC stations 10 and 13 says approximately 1,000 Iron Range 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 Iron Range – 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.
University of Minnesota researchers made a call in mid-September for more participants in its study of a possible link between Iron Range 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 Iron Range 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 Iron Range 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.
Last year, we reported on the establishment of a mesothelioma research project in Minnesota, which is examining the possible link between taconite mining and mesothelioma. The five-year research program received $4.9 million in funding from the Minnesota state legislature in April 2008, and is being directed by the University of Minnesota in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Health.
This week, university researchers announced they are ready to begin recruiting current and former taconite workers on Minnesota’s Iron Range, and their spouses, to participate in a screening program.
Preliminary research actually began in Summer 2007, but got a boost from the legislature’s funding, allowing the study to expand significantly. The funding established the Minnesota Taconite Workers Lung Health Partnership task force.
There are four health studies associated with the project:
- a motality study under the direction of the Minnesota Department of Health related to miner deaths
- a cancer rate incidence study
- a respiratory health assessment for miners or former miners
- an occupational exposure study
According to an update in the Star Tribune, which serves the Twin Cities, Minneapolis and St. Paul, “since last year, researchers have been collecting data they need to determine why Iron Range miners die from mesothelioma at higher rates than others.”
Researchers hope to recruit around 1,200 current and retired workers for the new screenings, plus about 800 of their spouses.
Mesothelioma has been linked exclusively to asbestos exposure, so this study seeks to determine what similarities may exist in the taconite mining industry and the taconite mineral that produce high incidences of mesothelioma among its workers.