Several years ago, health officials noticed an alarming trend: an increased incidence of mesothelioma, an aggressive form of lung cancer, in the mine workers. This prompted the Minnesota Department of Health to commission a health study by the University of Minnesota in 2008. The study took six years to complete, focusing largely on potential hazards in the taconite industry.
complete, focusing largely on potential hazards in the taconite industry.
The study was not able to isolate any dangers posed by taconite largely because the study identified other potential causes of mesothelioma within taconite processing facilities. During the 1970s, many workers in taconite processing facilities were exposed to materials containing commercially made asbestos.
Many processing facilities were built with materials containing asbestos
Asbestos was widely used for decades because of its flame-retardant qualities. Because of this, it was often used in pipe-coverings, roofing, cement and floor tiles.
Many of the taconite processing facilities along the north shore were constructed in the 1950s and 1960s. Asbestos was still used extensively in construction projects during this time and regulations to limit its use were non-existent.
The impact of this exposure can take years to appear. Individuals can develop various diseases associated with asbestos exposure including mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer and pleural disease.
Individuals who have worked in these processing facilities may be able to recover compensation for their exposure if they get sick. As soon as they are diagnosed with an asbestos-related condition, they should consult with a Minnesota attorney who is familiar with handling asbestos injury claims for taconite workers.