Health Concerns Associated With Mining Activity in Northeastern Minnesota
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is embarking on two long-term studies of mining activities in the northeastern part of the state.
The first study will be a detailed account of the health of mine workers in the region. There have been over 50 diagnoses of mesothelioma among people who worked these mines between the 1930s and the 1980s. This new study follows one completed in 2003 that showed 17 cases of mesothelioma among mine workers. The 2003 study was the first to conclusively show the presence of mesothelioma among Minnesota miners. Since that time, an additional 35 cases of mesothelioma have occurred, prompting the State to begin this second, more comprehensive study. MDH plans to seek federal funds from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, as well as other sources. The study is expected to last three years.
The second study that MDH is pursuing involves documenting the health risks associated with airborne mineral fragments released during the mining of ore. The study has been commissioned to provide data for the development of regulatory controls regarding exposure limits for these airborne mineral fragments.