Fancy quartz countertops are killing people who make them, doctors say
2023/07/24

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Quartz countertops have become a popular choice in kitchen design due to their durability and resistance to stains, scratches, and heat. However, a new report highlights the deadly price associated with these countertops. Workers involved in the fabrication of quartz countertops are dying at a young age from lung disease.

The lung disease, known as silicosis, is caused by inhaling tiny particles of silica. Silica is present in high concentrations in quartz countertops. Symptoms of silicosis include persistent coughing, shortness of breath, fatigue, weight loss, and scarring of the lungs. While treatments are available, there is no cure for silicosis, and the disease can be fatal.

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The study reveals that California has emerged as an epicenter of silicosis cases among quartz countertop workers. In the research, 52 workers were identified with silicosis, and 10 of them died before the study concluded. The researchers warn that if action is not taken, there could be hundreds or even thousands more cases in the future.

The study's authors call for measures to protect workers from silica dust exposure, including better air monitoring, training, and reporting. Some have even suggested banning quartz countertops altogether. Australia has considered banning the product and has implemented regulations to reduce the risk of silicosis.

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In California, safety officials found that a significant number of fabrication shops were likely out of compliance with existing silica standards, putting workers at risk.

Efforts are being made to address the issue. The County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors has approved a motion to explore options for banning the sale, fabrication, and installation of silica fabricated stone in the county. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health is also working on drafting emergency rules related to engineered quartz products.

In conclusion, while quartz countertops offer aesthetic appeal and durability, the health risks associated with their production cannot be ignored It is crucial for public health officials, doctors, and policymakers to take action to protect workers and prevent further cases of silicosis.

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