Occupational Respiratory Disease Information System (ORDIS)
The Occupational Respiratory Disease Information System (ORDIS) was established by the 1998 Legislature to address concerns about occupational respiratory disease in northeastern Minnesota and eventually elsewhere in the state. ORDIS initially had two main areas of activity.
The first activity was to investigate the 70% excess of mesothelioma (a rare type of lung cancer caused primarily by exposure to asbestos), in men, within a seven-county region in northeastern Minnesota. Specifically, the investigation was to determine to what extent mesothelioma was associated with iron mining, and if so, what exposures these workers may have experienced. This investigation was completed and a preliminary report presented to the ORDIS Advisory Work Group on March 7, 2003. A final report, "Exposures to Commercial Asbestos in Northeastern Minnesota Iron Miners who Developed Mesothelioma," that includes corrections as well as comments from the ORDIS Advisory Work Group was completed November 25, 2003. A subsequent peer-reviewed paper was also published (Brunner et al, 2008). Further research on the health of Minnesota taconite miners conducted by researchers at the University of Minnesota between 2007 and 2014 can be found here: Minnesota Taconite Workers Health Study.
The second ORDIS activity was a pilot test in Northeast Minnesota for a system to track the occurrence of occupational respiratory diseases such as asthma, asbestosis, and silicosis in the current workers. A follow-up study of the causes of death among approximately 70,000 former iron miners was later added as a third ORDIS activity. Neither of the latter two activities was completed before funding cuts and the repeal of ORDIS in early 2002. More detailed summaries of these activities are included in the final ORDIS News, Volume 4, December 2001.