U study finds link between cancer, taconite mining

Branden Largent

Taconite industry workers in the Iron Range have an increased risk of contracting rare lung cancer mesothelioma, according to a University news release

The $4.9 million Minnesota Taconite Workers Health Study started in 2008 and found that risk for the rare lung cancer increased by 3 percent for every additional year worked, according to the news release. 

"This is a landmark study for Minnesota and the Iron Range," School of Public Health dean John Finnegan said in the statement. "Our goal was to begin to anwer questions around how mining and taconite processing have impacted the health of Minnesotans. These studies have 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. 

"No matter how you look at it, this is dusty work, and it demands that workers and employers take responsibility to safeguard themselves," lead researcher Jeff Mandel told Minnesota Public Radio. "Regardless of whatever is going on with our research, you can't wait around until our results come back."