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

David M Perlman, Jeffrey H Mandel, Nnaemeka Odo, Andrew Ryan, Christine S Lambert, Richard F Maclehose, Gurumurthy Ramachandran, Bruce H Alexander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


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

Bibliographical note

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© 2018 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


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


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