Since 2017, 2 fatalities in 18 cases of silicosis across 4 states has brought new focus to the respiratory health of more than 96,000 employees employed by nearly 8,700 stone fabrication industry businesses across the United States.
- Silicosis is a progressive, potentially fatal lung disease caused by occupational exposure to respirable c-silica. Adverse health effects from inhalation exposure includes the resipratory, renal, and immune systems
- Engineered stone typically contains over 90% silica, as compared to less than 45% in granite and less than 10% in marble
- The first reported case of silicosis in North America was in 2014 from an employee of a countertop company
- In 2015 OSHA issued a "hazard alert" warning of exposure risk for workers who manufacture natural and artificial stone countertops
- There is scant data on the prevalence of silicosis and its associated conditions in stone fabrication workers in the United States, as screening standards have only recently been put in place and varies by jurisdiction
- A comprehensive screening in Queensland, Australia found 12% (98 cases) of 799 stone fabrication workers had silicosis
Silicosis is preventable through effective workplace exposure controls, such as water feeds, ample ventilation, and appropriate respiratory protection
- The US Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) did not identify minimum risk levels (MRLs) for inhaled c-silica for any exposure duration in their toxicological profile, given the "serious nature of silicosis and the uncertainties associated with identification of a no-effect level"
- The current federal and state OSHA standard for respirable crystalline silica permissible exposure limit (PEL) is 0.05 mg/m3, as it has been since 2016
Supplied Air and Powered Air Purifying Respirators (PAPR): Comprehensive Respiratory Protection for Engineered Stone Countertop Fabrication Shops
Improve worker productivity and protect them from long term lung damage with forced air helmets and hoods that don't require fit testing or shaving.
Check out our complete line of supplied air respiratory safety solutions including respirators, PAPR, and air supply monitoring and filtering equipment, or call (248)221-8076 to discuss protecting workers from silica dust and silicosis.
Severe Silicosis in Engineered Stone Fabrication Workers — California, Colorado, Texas, and Washington, 2017–2019 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR)
Workers Are Falling Ill, Even Dying, After Making Kitchen Countertops | National Public Radio (NPR)
US agency releases toxicological profile for silica | Chemical Watch
Engineered Stone, Frequently Used for Countertops, Is Making Workers Fatally Sick | Architectural Digest
- Image by apexxdance from Pixabay