A spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Health says that another case of malignant mesothelioma has been identified in one of the 72,000 Iron Range miners whose health is being monitored in a Department of Health study. The department periodically cross-references the records of the 72,000 miners with data from the Minnesota Cancer Surveillance System, which tracks cancer cases in the state of Minnesota. “It’s a newly identified case of mesothelioma, I would put it that way,” said spokesman Buddy Ferguson. In 2007, the miners group was cross-checked against the cancer registry and 58 cases of mesothelioma were identified.
The Department does not yet know if the 59 th mesothelioma patient has died from the cancer. Mesothelioma has a latency period of as long as fifty years, so it is likely that the case reflects asbestos exposure many years ago. The miners in the registry worked in mines on the Iron Range between 1930 and 1982. Seventeen miners are known to have developed mesothelioma and died between 1988 and 1996. Another 35 miners have are known to have died since 1996.