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Researchers to keep miners informed

Associated Press

DULUTH, Minn. — The research team looking into a rare cancer on Minnesota’s Iron Range says it wants to meet often with mine workers and retirees.

Fifty-nine men in northeastern Minnesota have died of mesothelioma, which strikes the lining of the lung. That’s twice the expected rate of the disease.

The University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health is leading the investigation, drawing on a database of 72,000 miners. One part of the complicated effort is figuring out just how much rock dust workers have been exposed to.

At a meeting in Duluth, some former taconite workers said that’s a challenge. Roger Holmstrom, a miner for 36 years, told researchers the dust is "all over."

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The Minnesota Health Department was criticized for withholding data on the cancer last year.

Researcher Jeffrey Mandel says the scientists want to share information with miners throughout their work to "eliminate a lot of these rumors that can otherwise develop."

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