Hidden Dangers: The Silica Threat Behind Quartz Countertops

Quartz countertops, also known as engineered stone, are the most popular choice for kitchen and bath countertops in the United States.  However, there is a hidden cost to workers who are exposed to silica dust at high levels and are becoming sick with silicosis. Quartz countertops bind silica particles with resin, and the fabrication process releases dangerous silica dust into the air. Quartz slabs are cheaper and more durable than natural stone, but their silica content is far higher.  When they are cut or ground, they release clouds of silica dust that easily enter the lungs and can lead to silicosis.

Dangers of Engineered Quartz - Silicosis Lawyers - Lipsitz, Ponterio & Comerford, LLC

Silicosis is a lung disease caused by occupational exposure to airborne silica dust particles, a byproduct of fabricating engineered stone countertops. This work is especially dangerous when protective equipment, like masks and respirators, are not provided.  Even then, wet sawing, ventilation, and protective gear may not be sufficient to prevent inhalation of the harmful particles.  Historically, silicosis takes decades to develop with natural stone, but with artificial stone, symptoms usually appear in just a few years. According to the American Lung Association, symptoms of silicosis include persistent cough, shortness of breath, and difficulty breathing. As the disease progresses, it may lead to more severe respiratory issues, including respiratory failure and lung transplantation.

Clusters of silicosis cases have been identified in California among fabricators of engineered stone countertops, where legislation has been introduced to increase safety measures and protect quartz fabricators. Citing unacceptable safety risks to workers, effective July 1, 2024, Australia will ban the use, supply, and manufacture of engineered stone in a move that has been described as lifesaving.

If you have worked with engineered stone and have been diagnosed with silicosis or lung cancer, please contact us for a free consultation.