Minnesota Iron Rangers See Skyrocketing Mesothelioma Rates

University of Minnesota researchers will soon share their conclusions about the abnormally high rates of mesothelioma among local taconite iron workers.

Since 2008, the Duluth News Tribune reports, the researchers have been examining nearly 46,000 iron miners. These so-called “Iron Rangers” worked in the production of taconite, an iron-bearing sedimentary rock mined and processed in the state’s Iron Range since the 1950s.

Researchers want to know why Iron Rangers suffer from malignant mesothelioma at a rate 300 percent higher than that of the general population of Minnesota. At least 82 Iron Rangers have died in the past few years from mesothelioma.

Malignant mesothelioma is a rare cancer — almost always caused by exposure to asbestos. Moreover, mesothelioma has a latency period of up to 40 years after initial asbestos exposure. This can make finding the asbestos source difficult.

Indeed, the Iron Ranger researchers couldn’t successfully identify any “traditional” asbestos fibers. However, one theory is the exposure might have happened at the taconite plants, where workers were exposed to asbestos insulation or molds. Some researchers also theorize the mesothelioma is from past exposures that occurred in asbestos-heavy industries such as shipbuilding, construction, or pipefitting.

Researchers announced they will share the study’s conclusions at a public meeting on April 12.

If you have been exposed to asbestos at a jobsite and developed an asbestos-related condition, you may be eligible for financial compensation. Call the experienced asbestos attorneys at Sokolove Law for a free case evaluation today.