The relationship between various exposure metrics for elongate mineral particles (EMP) in the taconite mining and processing industry

Jooyeon Hwang, Gurumurthy Ramachandran, Peter C. Raynor, Bruce H. Alexander, Jeffrey H. Mandel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Different dimensions of elongate mineral particles (EMP) have been proposed as being relevant to respiratory health end-points such as mesothelioma and lung cancer. In this article, a methodology for converting personal EMP exposures measured using the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) 7400/7402 methods to exposures based on other size-based definitions has been proposed and illustrated. Area monitoring for EMP in the taconite mines in Minnesota's Mesabi Iron Range was conducted using a Micro Orifice Uniform Deposit Impactor (MOUDI) size-fractionating sampler. EMP on stages of the MOUDI were counted and sized according to each EMP definition using an indirect-transfer transmission electron microscopy (ISO Method 13794). EMP were identified using energy-dispersive X-ray and electron diffraction analysis. Conversion factors between the EMP counts based on different definitions were estimated using (1) a linear regression model across all locations and (2) a location-specific ratio of the count based on each EMP definition to the NIOSH 7400/7402 count. The highest fractions of EMP concentrations were found for EMP that were 1-3 m in length and 0.2-0.5 m in width. Therefore, the current standard NIOSH Method 7400, which only counts EMP >5 m in length and ≥ 3 in aspect ratio, may underestimate amphibole EMP exposures. At the same time, there was a high degree of correlation between the exposures estimated according to the different size-based metrics. Therefore, the various dimensional definitions probably do not result in different dose-response relationships in epidemiological analyses. Given the high degree of correlation between the various metrics, a result consistent with prior research, a more reasonable metric might be the measurement of all EMP irrespective of size.[Supplementary materials are available for this article. Go to the publisher's online edition of Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene for the following free supplemental resource: figures detailing EMP concentration.]

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)613-624
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of occupational and environmental hygiene
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • NIOSH 7400
  • elongate mineral particles (EMP)
  • sizebased definitions for EMP exposures
  • taconite

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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