Silica hazards from engineered stone countertops

A brand new engineered stone countertop product referred to as “quartz surfacing,” was produced within the late 1980s by mixing quarta movement aggregate with resins to produce a product to be used home based building and residential improvement.  Manufacturing of the material, including products for example CaesarStone™, Silestone™, Zodiaq™, or Cambria™ is really a fast growing industry.  First produced in Israel and The country, manufacture of this stuff is continuing to grow world-wide, driving quarta movement slab imports towards the U.S. up 63% between 2011 and 2012 and 48% between April 2012 and April 2013 (Schwartzkopf 2013, StatWatch 2013).  Quarta movement surfacing materials could have as much as 93% crystalline silica (Dupont 2010).  In comparison, the percent of crystalline silica inside a slab of granite is under 45%, more dark color granite includes a lower percentage (Simcox et al. 1999).  Workers who fabricate and install quarta movement surfacing are in danger of overexposure to silica released during sizing, cutting, grinding and polishing.  Prolonged inhalation of dust from silica-that contains materials can result in silicosis (scarring from the lung area).  In accessory for silicosis, scientific evidence signifies that work-related contact with crystalline silica puts workers at elevated risk for  other serious health problems: chronic obstructive lung disease, cancer of the lung, kidney and ligament disease, and t . b.  The focus of the blog is on silicosis, that has happened in multiple workers within this industry.


Silicosis is because inhaling very fine (“respirable”) dust that contains crystalline silica. Initially, individuals might be developing disease even without respiratory system signs and symptoms. Chronic silicosis typically develops over 10 years of contact with lower levels of respirable crystalline silica. However, high amounts of exposure may cause faster growth and development of the condition. Diagnosing is generally made via a chest radiograph, which needs to be indexed by a NIOSH-certified Readers.

Installments of silicosis happen to be reported among engineered stone countertop workers far away.  Inside a study printed this year, researchers in Israel found 25 patients known their National Lung Transplantation Program with silicosis who shared a typical exposure history. Had labored with similar commercial make of decorative quarta movement surfacing material for 10–14 many performed similar dry-cutting from the material for kitchens along with other countertop applications (Kramer et al. 2012).  Most lately, 46 installments of silicosis were reported in The country in workers cutting and installing engineered stone countertops with silica content of 70-90% (Pérez-Alonso et al. 2014).  These people were youthful (ages 29–37 years) and labored in the market for 9–17 years.

While no reported installments of silicosis  in the U.S. happen to be associated with quarta movement surfacing materials, recent research signifies that exposures to silica-that contains dust while dealing with this stuff may approach or exceed the Work-related Safe practices Administration (OSHA) current Allowable Exposure Limit (PEL) (Phillips et al. 2013).  Multiple inspections by OSHA (U.S. Department at work) have documented overexposures to silica at stone fabrication shops using a mixture of gemstone and quarta movement surfacing materials (OSHA 2011).  These overexposures would indicate U.S. workers within this industry are vulnerable to developing silicosis along with the other multiple health problems connected with silica exposure.

Protecting Workers

We are able to apply what we should learn about reducing contact with dusts from gemstone products to quarta movement surfacing materials.  The answer to prevention is keeping dust from the air.  Hazard alerts printed in California and Washington Condition described contact with silica dust along with other hazards associated with fabrication of granite and gemstone products and provided dust control recommendations.  Whenever possible, cutting, grinding and shaping ought to be done wet.  Ventilation and filtration should be employed to collect silica-that contains dust at its source.  If these engineering controls neglect to get rid of the risk, then use with a minimum of a NIOSH-approved N95 respirator is suggested.

Additionally to information and sources on silica and silicosis for employers and employees supplied by NIOSH and OSHA, the middle for Construction Research and Training’s website “Work Securely with Silica” is searchable by work task, material and power.

Help Wanted

There’s relatively little sampling data on quarta movement surfacing materials. NIOSH encourages fabricators to submit a request any adverse health Hazard Evaluation (HHE).  More information are available around the HHE Subject Page.  Researchers at NIOSH are specifically thinking about seeing  a condition-of-the-art engineered stone countertop factory to assist us learn how to best control exposures to quarta movement surfacing material.  If you are looking at dealing with NIOSH, you are able to call us while using comment section below, e-mail us at, or submit an HHE in the link provided above.

Finally, if individuals dealing with countertops have health issues or are worried about past exposures, they ought to visit a doctor and tell them regarding their concerns. Healthcare providers who suspect their patients’ health issues may result from dealing with quarta movement-that contains materials ought to report their concern for their condition health department.

Webpages of great interest

  • NIOSH Silica Subject Page
  • NIOSH Engineering Controls for silica in Construction
  • NIOSH Work-related Respiratory system Disease Surveillance
  • OSHA Silica, Crystalline
  • CPWR Work Securely with Silica
  • NJ Department of Health insurance and Senior Services Silicosis Surveillance
  • MSU Work-related & Ecological Medicine, Silicosis


Get more information at the references utilized in this web site entry.

Karen Worthington, MS, RN, COHN-S Margaret Filios, M.Sc. RN Mary Jo Reilly, MS Robert Harrison, MD, Miles per hour and Kenneth D. Rosenman, MD.

Karen Worthington is really a Research Researcher within the Nj Department of Health insurance and Senior Services.

Capt. Filios is really a Senior Researcher within the NIOSH Division of Respiratory system Disease Studies.

Mary Jo Reilly is definitely an Epidemiologist within the Division of Work-related & Ecological Medicine at Michigan Condition College.

Dr. Harrison is really a Professor of drugs at UC Bay Area and Chief from the Work-related Health Surveillance and Evaluation Program in the California Department of Public Health.

Dr. Rosenman is really a Professor of drugs and Chief from the Division of Work-related and Ecological Medicine at Michigan Condition College.


Difference Between Natural Stone and Engineered Stone Countertops


Normandy Remodeling: A common question we get, is what are the differences between natural stone and engineered stone countertops?  You'd be surprised how "natural" engineered stone is, and definitely a fan of the maintenance involved with it.