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Taconite Industry At Risk For Mesothelioma

Taconite Industry At Risk For Mesothelioma

Workers in the taconite industry are at increased risk of developing mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive lung cancer. Taconite industry workers in the Iron Range in the midwest are especially at risk, says a new study from the University of Minnesota. Started in 2008, the Minnesota Taconite Workers Health Study is a $4.9 million project, and it has discovered that mesothelioma risk increases by 3% for every additional year worked.

U of M’s School of Public Health’s dean, John Finnegan said in the statement about the research, “This is a landmark study for Minnesota and the Iron Range. Our goal was to begin to answer questions around how mining and taconite processing have impacted the health of Minnesotans. These studies have started to uncover those answers.”

Despite finding a connection, the researchers in the study can’t confirm that dust from taconite operations causes mesothelioma, the statement said. But, only men who worked in the Iron Range were at increased risk for this cancer. The lead researcher, Jeff Mandel, adds, “No matter how you look at it, this is dusty work, and it demands that workers and employers take responsibility to safeguard themselves. Regardless of whatever is going on with our research, you can’t wait around until our results come back.”

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