A cohort of 406 men employed before 1963 for at least one year in a vermiculite mine in Montana was followed up until July 1983. The vermiculite ore as fed to the mill contained 4-6% of amphibole fibre in the tremolite series. Vital status was established in all but one of the 406 and death certificates were obtained and coded for 163 of the 165 men who died. Compared with white men in the United States, the cohort experienced excess mortality from all causes (SMR 1.17), respiratory cancer (SMR 2.45), non-malignant respiratory disease (SMR 2.55), and accidents (SMR 2.14). Four deaths were from malignant mesothelioma (proportional mortality 2.4%). Compared with Montana death rates, the SMR for respiratory cancer was somewhat higher (3.03). Man-year analyses of respiratory cancer and estimated cumulative exposure gave a relation that did not depart significantly from linearity. The results of this and case-referent analyses indicate an increased risk of mortality from respiratory cancer in this cohort of about 1% for each fibre year of exposure. In relation to estimated exposure the mortality experienced by the cohort from both lung cancer and mesothelial tumours was higher than in chrysotile mining.
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