Fancy quartz counter tops are killing folks: new examine

Fancy quartz counter tops are killing folks: new examine


July 24, 2023 | 5:46pm

Right here’s a kitchen design development to die for.

Quartz counter tops at the moment are the most well-liked selection amongst house renovators and designers due to their sturdiness and resistance to stains, scratches and warmth.

However that magnificence comes at a lethal worth: The employees who make quartz counter tops are dying at a younger age of lung illness, medical researchers say in a brand new report.

“Day by day I hope that the telephone rings telling me to come back to the hospital to get my new lungs,” former countertop maker Leobardo Segura-Meza said in a statement.

Segura-Meza, 27, began working as a stone fabricator in Los Angeles 10 years in the past, reducing, grinding and sharpening counter tops as a young person. He routinely wore protecting gear like a masks and used dust-reducing instruments.

However he went to the emergency room with shortness of breath in February 2022, and a lung biopsy revealed he had superior silicosis.

Though Segura-Meza has been authorized for a lung transplant, he fears he’ll run out of time: Two of his fellow countertop staff died whereas they had been on the ready checklist.

Identified amongst coal miners as “black lung,” silicosis is a lethal lung illness attributable to inhaling very small particles of silica.
Courtesy of David W. Cugell, MD.

What’s silicosis?

Identified amongst coal miners as “black lung,” silicosis is a lung illness attributable to inhaling very small particles of silica, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Signs of silicosis embody persistent coughing, shortness of breath, fatigue, weight reduction and fibrosis (scarring) of the lungs. Roughly 2.3 million US staff are uncovered to silica within the office, together with 2 million in building and 300,000 in different industries, according to the American Lung Association.

There are therapies accessible, however there isn’t any treatment for silicosis, and because the illness will get progressively worse, it’s usually deadly.

Employees who make quartz counter tops are being identified with silicosis at alarming charges, in accordance with medical specialists.
Getty Photographs

What are quartz counter tops product of?

Counter tops often called “quartz” are literally product of a synthetic materials that features crushed silica (quartz) with resins, dyes and glass, in accordance with the authors of the examine, published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine.

In 2021, a lot of these artificial stone surpassed plastic laminate to turn into the most-used countertop materials within the US, marking the primary time in a long time that laminate was not the most well-liked countertop materials, market research shows.

Some market experts forecast that the demand for quartz counter tops will develop to $13 billion by 2027 as customers need “uniqueness and individuality, which leads them to search for counter tops that may be personalized to go well with their distinctive preferences and necessities.”

And quartz counter tops are ceaselessly chosen on fashionable house renovation exhibits because the “go-to” countertop materials for modern kitchen and loo designs.

However quartz counter tops include greater than triple the silica content material of pure supplies like granite or marble, and the well being affect of quartz counter tops grew to become obvious quickly after they hit the market.

Artificial quartz counter tops are available in a stunning array of colours and patterns, making them a shopper favourite.
Getty Photographs/iStockphoto

Silicosis, as soon as a forgotten illness, is again

The primary US case of silicosis linked to engineered stone was recognized in Texas in 2015, and since that point, California has emerged as an epicenter of the illness.

All through the US, an estimated 100,000 stone fabricators are in danger for silicosis related to publicity to silica. An Australian authorities screening program discovered a silicosis charge of 19.5% amongst 1,053 staff who had been screened for the incurable illness.

Within the newest examine, researchers from the College of California, San Francisco, UCLA and the California Division of Public Well being discovered 52 California quartz countertop staff with silicosis. Twenty of them had superior silicosis, and 10 died because the examine started.

Ought to quartz counter tops be banned?

“Our paper raises the alarm,” mentioned Dr. Sheiphali Gandhi, a UCSF pulmonologist and co-author of the examine. “If we don’t cease it now, we’re going to have tons of if not 1000’s of extra instances. Even when we stopped it now, we’re going to be seeing these instances for the following decade as a result of (silicosis) takes years to develop.”

The researchers known as for public well being officers, medical doctors and policymakers to implement measures to higher defend staff from publicity to silica mud, extra shortly diagnose instances of the illness, and even ban quartz counter tops altogether.

Australia has thought of banning the product, however has not but completed so, as an alternative creating laws to assist scale back the chance of silicosis by higher air monitoring, coaching and reporting.

In 2019 and 2020, California security officers investigated its countertop trade and located that about 72% of the 808 fabrication outlets working within the state had been “possible out of compliance with the prevailing silica normal,” placing tons of of staff vulnerable to silicosis, according to NPR.

Final month, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously authorized a movement directing the county’s director of public well being to report inside 90 days “on the choices to ban the sale, fabrication and set up of silica fabricated stone within the County,” according to LAist.

Moreover, the California Division of Occupational Security and Well being (Cal/OSHA) has begun drafting emergency guidelines surrounding the manufacture and use of engineered quartz merchandise.

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