Pleural abnormalities and exposure to elongate mineral particles in Minnesota iron ore (taconite) workers

David Perlman, Jeffrey H. Mandel, Nnaemeka Odo, Andy Ryan, Christine Lambert, Richard F. MacLehose, Gurumurthy Ramachandran, Bruce H. Alexander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Iron ore (taconite) mining and processing are an important industry in northern Minnesota and western Michigan. Concerns around exposures have centered largely on exposure to non-asbestiform amphibole elongate mineral particles (EMPs) found in the eastern portion of the Minnesota iron range. Methods: A cross sectional survey was undertaken of current and former taconite workers and spouses along with a detailed exposure assessment. Participants provided an occupational history and had a chest radiograph performed. Results: A total of 1188 workers participated. Potential exposures to non-amphibole EMPs were evident across multiple jobs in all active mines. Pleural abnormalities were found in 16.8% of workers. There was an association of pleural abnormalities with cumulative EMP exposure that was not specific to the eastern portion of the range. Conclusion: There was evidence of a mild to moderate increase in pleural abnormalities in this population of miners, associated with geographically non-specific cumulative EMP exposure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)391-399
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Industrial Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2018


  • chest x-ray
  • elongate mineral particles
  • pneumoconiosis
  • taconite

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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