Investigation of exposures to commercial asbestos in northeastern Minnesota iron miners who developed mesothelioma

Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology . 2007 Oct 5 [Epub ahead of print] [Link]

Brunner WM, Williams AN, Bender AP.

Chronic Disease and Environmental Epidemiology, Minnesota Department of Health, 85 East 7th Place, P.O. Box 64882, St. Paul, MN 55164-0882, USA.


A 70% excess of mesothelioma, an asbestos-related cancer, has been reported among men in northeastern Minnesota, where iron mining has been the major industry. The Minnesota Department of Health has studied iron miners who developed mesothelioma to identify possible sources of asbestos exposure. A database of all Minnesota residents diagnosed with mesothelioma between 1988 and 1996 was linked to a database of approximately 72,000 current and former Minnesota iron-mining employees to identify cases who had ever worked in the mining industry. The job histories of the cases were examined to determine if any of their jobs could have involved exposure to commercial asbestos. Seventeen individuals diagnosed with mesothelioma in Minnesota between 1988 and 1996 were found to have worked in the iron mining industry. Of the 15 for whom adequate work histories were available, 14 had identifiable sources of exposure to commercial asbestos in jobs held both inside and outside of the mining industry. The time between employment in these asbestos-exposed occupations and the diagnosis of mesothelioma is consistent with the 20 or more year latency period that has been observed in other studies of this cancer.

Keywords: Mesothelioma; Asbestos; Iron miners; Taconite; Epidemiology; Case series