An update of mortality from all causes among white uranium miners from the Colorado Plateau Study Group

Am J Ind Med. 1997 Feb;31(2):211-22. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1097-0274(199702)31:2<211::aid-ajim11>;2-4.


To place previously recognized mortality risks into the context of the total mortality from all causes, an updated retrospective cohort mortality study was conducted on 3,238 white males from the US Public Health Service cohort of Colorado Plateau uranium miners. Vital status was followed from 1960 through 1990. Life-table analyses used combined New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado mortality rates for external comparison and mortality risks within the lowest radon-exposure or duration-employed category for internal comparison. Significantly elevated SMRs were found for pneumoconioses (SMR = 24.1, 95% CI 16.0-33.7), lung cancer (SMR = 5.8, 95% CI 5.2-6.4), tuberculosis (SMR = 3.7, 95% CI 1.9-6.2), chronic obstructive respiratory diseases (SMR = 2.8, 95% CI 2.2-3.5), emphysema (SMR = 2.5, 95% CI 1.9-3.2), benign and unspecified tumors (SMR = 2.4, 95% CI 1.0-4.6), and diseases of the blood and blood-forming organs (SMR = 2.4, 95% CI 1.0-5.0). No significantly lowered SMRs were found for any disease. For lung cancer and pneumoconioses standardized rate ratios increased with increasing exposure to radon progeny or duration of employment. Most findings from this update are consistent with previous studies. Not observed were previously elevated SMRs for chronic nephritis and for acute alcoholism. New findings observed were elevated SMRs for benign and unspecified tumors and for diseases of the blood and blood-forming organs. The most important long-term mortality risks for the white uranium-miners continue to be lung cancer and pneumoconioses, for which SMRs remain significantly elevated after a mean period of 22.4 years since last uranium mining.

MeSH terms

  • Cause of Death*
  • Colorado / epidemiology
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hematologic Diseases / mortality
  • Humans
  • Life Tables
  • Male
  • Male Urogenital Diseases / mortality
  • Mining*
  • Neoplasms / mortality
  • Occupational Exposure
  • Pneumoconiosis / mortality
  • Radon
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / mortality
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Uranium
  • Wounds and Injuries / mortality


  • Uranium
  • Radon