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.
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- chest x-ray
- elongate mineral particles