Cancer in Mining Towns
In 2004, at age 64, Lee Kepler died of mesothelioma, an asbestos-related lung cancer. He became one of the 52 men whose deaths since 1988 have led the state Health Department to conclude that the rare cancer is killing iron ore miners in significantly greater numbers than previously thought.
The department said last week it will study whether the deaths are linked to asbestos or asbestos-like fibers in iron ore dust, and whether exposure limits are needed. A 2003 study, faulted by mine workers and others, said the cause probably was commercial asbestos used in taconite-plant furnaces and other mining equipment: http://www.startribune.com/462/story/1091235.html