Are there safe alternatives to engineered stone?

There are several safe alternatives to engineered stone available to Australian consumers:

  • Timber
  • Porcelain
  • Solid Surface
  • Laminate
  • Stainless Steel
  • Recycled glass

Links to information on engineered stone alternatives.

What are the different types of Silicosis?

Silicosis is classified into different clinical and pathologic forms based on the amount of crystalline silica accumulated in the lungs that triggers a nodular fibrotic reaction.

There are three main types of silicosis: chronic (nodular), accelerated, and acute. Chronic (nodular) silicosis is the most common form and typically occurs after exposure for more than 10 years. It can take 10 to 20 years, and in some cases up to 40 years, for symptoms to appear. Accelerated silicosis is less common and usually occurs after exposure over 1 to 10 years, with symptoms appearing within 5 to 10 years of initial exposure. Acute silicosis is the rarest form and occurs after exposure for less than a year, with symptoms developing within a few months or years

What symptoms may workers experience?

During the initial stage of silicosis, workers may not show any symptoms. However, symptoms may arise years later, even after the exposure has stopped. In the beginning stages, patients may experience shortness of breath after exercise and a dry, harsh cough. As the disease advances, dyspnea may increase. Patients with severe silicosis may experience difficulty sleeping, a productive cough, loss of appetite, and weight loss. The progression of the disease may vary among individuals and is not yet fully understood. Some individuals with progressive massive fibrosis (PMF) may need a lung transplant.

Are there any known cures for Silicosis?

There is no known cure for silicosis. Once the lung tissue has been damaged by silica particles, the damage is irreversible. Treatment is focused on managing symptoms, preventing further exposure to silica dust, and treating complications that may arise. In some cases, medications such as bronchodilators, corticosteroids, or antibiotics may be prescribed to alleviate symptoms or prevent infections. Oxygen therapy may also be used in advanced cases to improve breathing. In severe cases, patients require a lung transplantation, or become terminally ill. Which is why is why engineered stone needs to be banned altogether.

Does proper PPE gear protect against engineered stone?

Increasing evidence suggests that, much like asbestos, there is no safe way to use silica even with the introduction of control measures and personal protection equipment. Personal protective equipment (PPE) such as properly fitting face masks is recommended when working with engineered stone to reduce the risk of inhaling silica dust. However, according to the 2021 government report by the National Dust Disease Taskforce, existing workplace health and safety regulations that rely on PPE have not adequately protected stonemasons from developing silicosis. It should also be noted that Australia.

The standard response to the silicosis epidemic is that workers should use control measures and personal protection. However, there is increasing evidence dust control measures do not reduce the levels of silica to non-hazardous levels.

Many companies also use a mixture of dry and wet cutting, particularly when installing the products. As with asbestos, there simply is no way to safely use this material.