Letter: Taconite and mesothelioma by Craig Strid
Are conditions created by taconite mining responsible for mesothelioma cases?
In 2003, a study of taconite miners found that 14 out of 17 cases of mesothelioma were contracted by asbestos.
Since that study 35 additional cases have been diagnosed but all do not share contact with asbestos. Mesothelioma occurs at twice the expected rate among the population of the northeastern region of Minnesota, including the Iron Range.
In 1974, a US District Court judge ruled that the drinking water and Lake Superior must be protected from the asbestos-like particles. Water tests showed 100 billion fibers per liter of water. There was no epidemiological proof that these particles caused cancer or if they were safe. This became one of the costliest pollution prevention cases for the Reserve Mining Company.
The University of Minnesota and public health are now again conducting a study to answer the following questions.
What is the relationship of working in the taconite industry to the excessive number of cases of mesothelioma? Are other diseases, respiratory and non-respiratory, associated with work in the taconite industry?
Are spouses at risk for respiratory diseases as a result of their partners working in the taconite industry?
Food for thought…
Craig Strid, Rhinelander
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