Engineered stone (Quartz) countertop slabs and blocks have caused an epidemic of severe silicosis disease in workers. Engineered stone (Quartz) countertops are made from pulverized crystalline silica and resin.
Engineered stone is popular in home and commercial construction because it is less expensive than real stone. It is marketed to consumers as a durable, scratch-resistant surfaces that is less likely to stain and does not require sealing. Unlike natural stone, engineered stone provides consistency and uniformity, and the non-porous design makes it less prone to bacterial growth.
Also known as artificial, manufactured, agglomerate, composite, reconstituted, or synthetic stone, engineered stone (Quartz) countertop slab materials contain a higher percentage of silica fibers than natural stone, as much as 90-95% silica (compared with for example 45% for granite; 30% for slate; 15% for porcelain; 3% for limestone, and 2% for marble). To manufacture the stone, the silica is finely crushed into a powder and then bonded together with polymer resins, pigments, and other additives.
Video Credit: SHES at Georgia Tech
Engineered stone is sold by the manufacturers as an unfinished slab or block product that then must be fabricated by fabrication shops before it can be installed in a consumer’s home. As a result, when the engineered stone is fabricated, cut, ground, polished, drilled, or installed, hazardous, often invisible, levels of nano-sized silica dust are released into the air.
The “wet” saw method, exhaust ventilation, and masks or respirators recommended by the manufacturers are not effective at protecting fabricators, cutters, polishers, and installers from inhaling the silica fibers. Engineered stone presents a unique hazard of massive exposure to high content, ultrafine and nano-sized, crystalline silica and other dangerous fibrogenic particles.
Exposure to silica dust is a health hazard for workers who manufacture, fabricate, finish, and install engineered stone countertops, and anyone working around them. It causes silicosis. Silicosis is the formation of scar tissue, or fibrosis, within the lungs. Symptoms of silicosis can include cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, and chronic respiratory disease.
Historically, when working with natural stone or other products, chronic silicosis normally developed after 10 to 40 years of exposure. However, exposure to the unique silica dust from working with engineered stone can lead to more rapid development of disease, often after just a few years of exposure. Diseases caused by exposure include but are not limited to:
- Chronic Silicosis: 10-40 years onset; fibrosis of the upper lobes of the lung; often no symptoms for as long as 10 to 20 years; slowly progresses over time
- Accelerated Silicosis: early onset after as little as 2 years exposure; rapid progression; may lead to progressive massive fibrosis (PMF); often rapidly leads to death
- Acute Silicosis: early onset within weeks, months, or only a few years of exposure; causes pulmonary alveolar proteinosis (PAV), the alveolar air sacs in the lungs fill up with fluid; causes Cor Pulmonale, or right-sided heart failure; often rapidly leads to death
Brayton Purcell LLP/Raphael Metzger’s client Leobardo Segura-Meza testified about his accelerated silicosis disease on July 20, 2023 at the Cal-OSHA Standards Board Emergency Hearing.
The story of Ever Ramon, another engineered stone worker suffering from silicosis, can be watched at Stop Silicosis For Ever.
Acute and accelerated silicosis are progressive, debilitating, incurable, and fatal diseases that cause permanent irreversible lung damage. Patients usually require 24/7 supplemental oxygen and the only cure is a lung transplant if the patient survives long enough to receive one. The incidence rate of acute and accelerated silicosis among engineered stone workers has been estimated at an extreme epidemic level of 40-50% of workers. All remaining engineered stone workers remain at risk of developing chronic silicosis, lung cancer, chronic kidney disease, and autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and systemic sclerosis (scleroderma).
Many engineered stone workers in the United States are non-English speaking undocumented immigrants, likely leading to an under-reporting of the disease rates. The lack of documentation does not impact an engineered stone worker’s legal right to a safe work space working with safe products, or to seek compensation for the injuries he or she has sustained.
While several firms advertise on their websites for these cases, only Brayton Purcell LLP, along with co-counsel Raphael Metzger, have actually filed numerous engineered stone silicosis personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits for workers and their families throughout California and have a presence in Washington, Oregon, Utah and many other states. All media inquiries should be directed to James Nevin, firstname.lastname@example.org (415) 493-3531. Potential clients should contact us here or (855)335-8606. Fabrication shop owners and union representatives should contact Hugh Cook, at email@example.com (855) 335-8606. Attorneys seeking to refer an engineered stone silicosis or lung cancer case should contact us here or contact Hugh Cook, at firstname.lastname@example.org (855) 335-8606.
Contact A Lawyer Today – Free Case Evaluation – Legal Help
If you or a family member have worked as a fabricator, cutter, polisher, or installer of engineered stone (Quartz) (artificial) (manufactured) stone countertops, and have been diagnosed with any type of silicosis or lung cancer, or think that you potentially could have silicosis, contact us online or call us at (855) 335-8606 for a free consultation. Even if you are an undocumented immigrant, you may be entitled to financial compensation. You have rights. It is time for you to seek justice.
To learn about Safety and Medical resources, and how to reduce or eliminate exposure to silica, click here
To learn about how silicosis from engineered stone is diagnosed and to find treating doctors who specialize in engineered stone silicosis, click here
To learn about what the manufacturers and distributors of engineered stone knew about the hazards of their products, click here
For an updated listing of current news, important regulatory hearings and medical presentations, and medical journal articles about the epidemic of engineered stone silicosis, click here
To learn about the types of monetary damages available to silicosis victims, statute of limitations (deadlines to file a lawsuit), or the major defendant manufacturers of engineered stone, click here