The health effects of taconite, air sampling data, and the taconite industry are reviewed. The contamination of Lake Superior with asbestiform fibers from taconite mining operations is cited. The origins and structure of taconite ores as lithic units in cherty iron formations, and the other minerals found in similar formations are presented. Mining and processing procedures for producing marketable iron ore products are described. Taconite deposits and production rates for Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming are given. The utilization of taconite in road building materials, road aggregate, bricks, in the making of iron, and in coal preparation is noted. Mining and processing facilities for taconite involving eight companies and 14,000 employees (primarily in Minnesota) are discussed. Studies are cited in which taconite was 150 times less toxic than amosite (12172735) in human intestinal epithelial cells, and less hemolytic in sheep erythrocytes that chrysotile (12001295) fibers. It is noted that malignant and nonmalignant respiratory diseases among miners are potentiated by the contaminants present in their environment. The author concludes that there is a lack of occupational health studies in the taconite industry and more investigation is required regarding the occupational health effects of taconite mining.
Environmental Investigations Branch, NIOSH, NTIS PB83-193-037, 41 pages, 11 references