Funding for a study of mesothelioma and its connection to mining taconite is moving through the state House. Representative Tom Rukavina says Iron Rangers have been waiting 30 years to find out if taconite does, or does not, produce asbesto-like fibers that cause the cancer.
His funding bill was passed last week by the House’s Higher Education and Work Force Development Policy committee. If adopted, $4.9 million for the University of Minnesota study would come from the state Worker’s Compensation Fund. The bill has another House committee to clear before going to the floor for a vote. The Senate has yet to hold a hearing on the issue. The latest count from the state Health Department says 58 people in the area have died from mesothelioma.
Associated Press, March 2008.