Funding Problems Could Affect Iron Range Study
A series of studies on miners from Minnesota's Iron Range could be delayed or scaled back if organizers cannot secure the $5.5 million needed to conduct them.
The studies were prompted by the release of information by the state's health department that showed an exorbitantly high number of deaths caused by mesothelioma among Iron Range miners. The disease rate is much higher than normal but a cause for the increase has never been determined.
The University of Minnesota agreed to conduct three surveys over a five year period to determine whether mines can cause lung diseases, whether these diseases are the result of working in mines and if there is any risk to family members who come into regular contact with miners.
An independent study to be conducted by the National Resources Research Institute will take air samples from mines, their surrounding areas and lake bottoms in an attempt to model air quality over the last 100 years.
To date only $1.2 million has been committed to support the main study causing organizers and local politicians to request state and federal funds to pay for the shortfall. They worry that the study will never occur or be insufficient if they cannot come up with the difference which will essentially put the Iron Range community back at square one.