Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty approved a $4.9 million dollar study of mesothelioma and taconite worker’s health Monday, after reaching a compromise with Range legislators. The Minnesota Department of Health has confirmed at least 58 miners’ deaths due to mesothelioma.
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.
The University of Minnesota is launching a study into taconite mining and lung disease, specifically mesothelioma. Taconite miners appear to suffer crippling lung diseases more than other people — including mesothelioma, which is associated with breathing asbestos fibers.
The Minnesota Department of Health confirms 58 former miners dead from mesothelioma. It’s a rare disease, but is almost always fatal. And it’s still not clear the miner’s exposure to asbestos or something very similar, came from work in the taconite mines.
Now, the University of Minnesota is launching a new study that will take about three years to complete. That sounds like a long time, but it’s also been a long time coming, according to Bob Bratulich, a district director with the United Steelworkers of America.
“There are people that are dying of mesothelioma. There are people that are going to continue to contract mesothelioma and other lung-related diseases,” he said. “But the fact of the matter is we’ve got to get the study right. It’s got to be done correctly, so that at the end of the study people are accepting of the fact that it is the right science and that it was done properly.”
Information about mesothelioma medical and legal options provided by the Law Office of Roger G. Worthington, P.C., www.mesothel.com.