Minnesota’s geographical location in the upper Midwest is well-suited for mining, agriculture, and forestry, the state’s traditional economic drivers since it was first settled by American settlers in the early 19th Century. Located next to the Great Lakes region and at the edge of the Great Plains, Minnesota still relies heavily on farming and logging. However, in the 20th and early 21st Centuries, the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” has had a more industrialized economy. In addition to farms and lumber mills, Minnesota is home to many factories, mines, and food processing plants. Every town and city is also served by a power plant, although Minnesota is diversifying its energy production to be more ecologically sound. It is currently harnessing wind power and producing ethanol fuel. Unfortunately, most industries, at one point, heavily relied on asbestos, resulting in a myriad of workers developing life-threatening diseases.
If you or a loved one suffer from mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or asbestosis, keep in mind that you may entitled to significant compensation for pain, suffering, lost wages, trauma, and much more. We invite you to fill out our form today for a free Financial Compensation Packet, filled with information about top mesothelioma lawyers in Minnesota, how to get paid in 90 days, how to file an asbestos trust fund claim, and much more.
We offer help in all cities and towns in Minnesota, such as:
Minneapolis, St. Paul, Rochester, Bloomington, Duluth, Brooklyn Park, Plymouth, Woodbury, Eagan, Maple Grove, Eden Prairie Coon Rapids, Burnsville, Blaine, Lakeville, St. Cloud, Minnetonka, Apple Valley, Edina, St. Louis Park, Mankato,Maplewood, Moorhead, Shakopee, Richfield, Cottage Grove, Roseville, Inver Grove Heights, Andover, Brooklyn Center, Savage, Oakdale, Winona, Fridley, Shoreview, Owatonna, Austin, Ramsey, Chaska, White, Bear Lake, Chanhassen, Prior Lake, Champlin, Faribault, Elk River, Crystal, Rosemount, Hastings, New Brighton, Farmington, Golden Valley, Lino Lakes, New Hope, South St. Paul, West St. Paul, Willmar, Columbia Heights, Northfield, Forest Lake, Stillwater, Albert Lea, Hopkins, Anoka, St. Michael, Red Wing, Hibbing, Buffalo City, Ham Lake, Bemidji, Robbinsdale, Hutchinson, Otsego, Sartell, Marshall, Hugo, Brainerd, North Mankato, New Ulm, Fergus Falls, Sauk, Rapids City, Monticello, Worthington, Vadnais Heights, Mounds View, Cloquet, East Bethel, North St. Paul, Alexandria City, St. Peter, Mendota Heights, White Bear, Waconia, Rogers City, Grand Rapids, Fairmont, Big Lake, North Branch, Little Canada, Arden Hills, Hermantown, and more.
Minnesota, Asbestos, and Mesothelioma
As “green” as Minnesota is, however, the state is not immune from the health issues caused by asbestos. Ore mining, along with agriculture, fur trading, and logging, has been a staple industry in the state since the 19th Century. Minnesota was once renowned by its large deposits of soft ore and provided much of the world’s iron well into the 20th Century. Much of the top quality ore is depleted, but Minnesota still provides three quarters of the iron ore used in the U.S. Miners extract tons of iron from taconite, a sedimentary rock which bears iron mixed with carbonate, chert, or quartz.
Though mining creates jobs and income for Minnesotans, extracting and processing minerals exposes miners and other workers to asbestos. Asbestos is a family of six naturally-occurring minerals that are fibrous, resist chemical reactions, electrical charges, fire, and high temperatures. Asbestos fibers are also strong and pliable; they can be woven into fabric or added to metal to enhance its strength.
Starting in the late 19th Century, these beneficial properties appealed to a variety of industries, particularly heavy industries, power generating companies, and construction. Factories and steel mills which used fire and high temperatures in the manufacturing process used asbestos to protect facilities and workers from fire-related hazards. Asbestos was also used as insulation or to prevent damage from electrical discharges.
Unfortunately, asbestos’ benefits are outweighed by its toxic effects on humans. The fibers, which are 1,200 times thinner than a human hair, can enter the body via the respiratory system when people breathe air contaminated by asbestos dust. Limited, short-term exposure doesn’t have negative effects on humans. However, prolonged exposure to large amounts of asbestos fibers causes diseases such as lung cancer, asbestosis, and malignant mesothelioma.
Because mining has been a key industry in Minnesota since the 19th Century, many workers are exposed to asbestos fibers at their job sites. Unlike Montana, infamous for the W.R. Grace mining operations in Libby, Minnesota was not a large asbestos-producing state. However, the extraction and grinding of iron ore and taconite stirs asbestos fibers which are embedded in the rocks and soil and introduces them into the air.
Moreover, factories, food processing plants, lumber mills, and electricity-generating facilities built in Minnesota before 1980 were constructed with tons of asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) to protect them from fire or electrical discharges.
Most of the asbestos was transported from Montana by W.R. Grace and other asbestos producers. The result: Minnesota is ranked 18th in the nation for mesothelioma and asbestosis-related deaths. According to the Environmental Working Group, more than 710 Minnesotans died from mesothelioma between 1979 and 2004. This figure is an estimate based on U.S. government statistics. The Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies only began tracking asbestos-related deaths in the late 1970s, and the actual figures may be higher.
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that kills an average of 3,000 Americans each year. It affects the mesothelium, the protective lining that covers many of the body’s internal organs. It’s caused by the build-up of asbestos fibers in the soft tissue of the lungs, the cardiac sac that protects the heart, or the abdominal wall. It takes years, even decades, to fully develop. A latency period of 30 years is common, and sometimes a patient will not be diagnosed with mesothelioma until 50 years have passed.
Asbestos cancer also has symptoms that resemble those of other respiratory illnesses. This makes mesothelioma diagnoses particularly difficult, and by the time a physician has identified the disease, the cancer has already propagated itself through the affected organs and jumped to adjoining ones. Mesothelioma can be treated for several years after the initial diagnosis is made, but it can’t be cured.
Suppressing the Risks: Mesothelioma and the Asbestos Mining Industry
Though the EPA first officially reported the link between asbestos and mesothelioma in the early 1970s, doctors in Great Britain and the U.S. suspected such a causal connection as far back as the 1890s. The first cases of mesothelioma litigation in the U.S. were filed in the 1920s, but the asbestos industry successfully suppressed medical data linking its products to cancer for several decades.
Tragically, this suppression coincided with the peak era of asbestos use in the U.S., including the World War II years and the greater part of the Cold War period. Because asbestos was widely used in war production and, later, during the post-war construction boom, millions of Americans were exposed to the carcinogenic fibers. This is why so many mesothelioma patients are being diagnosed now. The asbestos industry’s disregard to the dangers of its product and the wide-ranging use of asbestos as a fire retardant or insulation are the roots of the present mesothelioma problem.
Asbestos Laws in Minnesota
The Minnesota Department of Health implements the regulations and rules in regards to asbestos abatement. These regulations are set in place to ensure the safety of the public as well as anyone working around asbestos:
- Under Minnesota Rules, Parts 4620.3000 to 4620.3724, anyone working on an asbestos-abatement project must first be qualified by the state. Each qualified person must have the proper training as well as the proper licensing before beginning any asbestos abatement project.
- Under the Minnesota Abatement Act, sections 326.70 to 326.81, the appropriate fees must be paid before starting an asbestos abatement project. In addition, notification must be sent to the state prior to starting the project. Notification must also be sent when the project is complete. Furthermore, indoor air quality standards must be adhered to at all times.
- When disposing of asbestos, it must be placed in a seal-tight container, with a label clearly marked to reflect that the contents are hazardous. Any container with asbestos must be disposed of at one of the state-approved landfills in Minnesota.
For more detailed regulations regarding asbestos in Minnesota, and for questions regarding licensing and asbestos training center, contact the Minnesota Department of Health at 651-201-4620.
Minnesota Statute of Limitations on Mesothelioma and Asbestos Lawsuits
Minn. Stat. Ann. § 541.01 et seq. mandates the statute of limitations for asbestos lawsuits in Minnesota. Fortunately, Minnesota has one of the longest times allotted for personal injury cases. Asbestos cases are filed as personal injury in Minnesota. Plaintiffs have six years from the time of the diagnosis of an asbestos-related disease or six years from the time the illness should been reasonably discovered. Wrongful death cases, however, must be filed within three years from the victim’s date of death.
Getting Legal Assistance in Minnesota
Keep in mind that if you or a loved one have been exposed to asbestos and developed mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or asbestosis, you may be entitled to significant compensation. Don’t forget to fill out our form to get our free Financial Compensation Packet, filled with information on the leading asbestos and mesothelioma attorneys in your area. If you have questions or need assistance, contact us toll-free at 800-793-4540.