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October 2011 Update


The research team continues to make progress in each of the study components.  The occupational exposure assessment, mortality and cancer incidence studies, the respiratory health survey and the airborne particulate study have all moved forward in accomplishing key goals.


To date, causes of death have been identified for over 13,000 individuals, including  mesotheliomas, lung cancers and death from non-malignant respiratory disease.  The team has identified findings from lung function testing and from chest x-rays in 1188 workers and 498 spouses who participated in the Respiratory Health Survey.  Over 2000 on-site exposure measurements have been completed in each of the active mining facilities.   Sampling in communities has been completed and is undergoing laboratory analysis.


As the data gathering phase comes to a close this year, the next step is exposure integration,    This is the most complicated part of the process and involves combining the data on occupational exposures with the various health study findings to see what role exposure plays in the identified diseases.    This is expected to be completed over the next year or so.  The community measures will also be reported during this time.

Along with the evaluation and interpretation of the data, an effort currently underway is the coordination of the reporting process.  Each study component will utilize an external peer-review process that involves the science advisory boards that have worked with researchers since the beginning of these projects.  Another progress report to the Minnesota Legislature will be made in February, 2012.


The initial reports will provide descriptive findings of occupational and community exposures, lung testing results and disease numbers with more specific analyses to be completed in stages.  Reports from the occupational exposure assessment and the airborne particulate studies will be ready first, followed by the mortality analysis.  Reporting on the respiratory health survey will follow while reporting on the mesothelioma findings will be towards the end of the reporting period.