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Health Screening of Minnesota Taconite Workers, Spouses is Complete

(October 21, 2010) - The University of Minnesota School of Public Health has finished enrolling and testing taconite workers and spouses for the research project examining the health of Minnesota's taconite workers.


The last of the taconite workers and their spouses were seen in the Bay Area Health Center in Silver Bay, Minn., on Friday, October 15. Analysis of the health exam findings by the research team is now underway.


Since the respiratory health survey began in August 2009, 1,300 current and former taconite workers and 500 of their spouses participated in the health exam, which was provided by a University of Minnesota health team at the Virginia Regional Medical Center in Virginia, Minn., and the Bay Area Health Center in Silver Bay, Minn.


The workers and their spouses, who were randomly selected by University researchers and participated voluntarily, filled out health questionnaires, provided blood samples, had chest x-rays, and completed tests to measure their lung function.


"We are greatly indebted to the individuals across the Iron Range for taking the time to participate in the respiratory health survey," said John R. Finnegan, Jr., dean of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. "I want to extend a personal thank you on behalf of the research team to the participating taconite workers and their spouses. Their involvement will be a key factor in the research team being able to understand the health risks that may be associated with work in the taconite mining industry."