Silicosis is the subject of new regulations and changing sentiments

Engineered stone is often hailed as a wonder material. It’s cheap, durable, recyclable, and attractive. But it’s also killing people, according to medical researchers and public health officials around the world. They’re linking a surge in severe cases of silicosis, a progressive and incurable lung disease, to the material’s growing popularity. Silicosis is one of the oldest occupational diseases. But the “rock dust menace,” as The New York Times described it in 1928, was mostly reined in in the U.S. after safety regulations like wet cutting, ventilation, and respirators were enacted. However, engineered stone, also known as quartz, has significantly higher concentrations of silica than natural stone—around 90 percent (granite is around 45 to 50 percent and marble is typically below 5 percent).

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