Findings mixed in Iron Range lung cancer study

12:15 PM, Apr 13, 2013   |    comments
MPR file Photo/Bob Kelleher
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MOUNTAIN IRON, Minn. - University of Minnesota researchers say taconite workers face an increased risk of a rare form of lung cancer, and it's higher the longer they're on the job. But they can't say for certain if dust from the state's iron mining and processing operations causes it.

The researchers traveled to the Iron Range of northeastern Minnesota Friday to announce the findings of their $5 million, five-year study into possible links between taconite dust and mesothelioma, a cancer of the lung lining that has killed 82 taconite workers over the years.

They say they found a "potential link" between exposure to taconite dust and mesothelioma, but the link isn't certain, so they can't say with certainty that dust causes it. They say a miner's risk of developing it remains very small.

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