Here’s a kitchen design development to die for.
Quartz counter tops at the moment are the most well-liked alternative amongst residence renovators and designers due to their sturdiness and resistance to stains, scratches and warmth.
But that magnificence comes at a lethal worth: The employees who make quartz counter tops are dying of lung illness at a younger age, medical researchers say in a brand new report.
“Every day I hope that the cellphone rings telling me to come back to the hospital to get my new lungs,” former countertop maker Leobardo Segura-Meza mentioned in an announcement.
Segura-Meza, 27, began working as a stone fabricator in Los Angeles 10 years in the past, reducing, grinding and sprucing counter tops as a youngster.
He routinely wore protecting tools like a masks and used dust-reducing instruments.
But he went to the emergency room with shortness of breath in February 2022, and a lung biopsy revealed he had superior silicosis.
Although Segura-Meza has been accepted for a lung transplant, he fears he’ll run out of time.
Two of his fellow countertop employees died whereas they had been on the ready checklist.
What is silicosis?
Known amongst coal miners as “black lung,” silicosis is a lung illness brought on by inhaling very small particles of silica, based on the Cleveland Clinic.
Symptoms of silicosis embrace persistent coughing, shortness of breath, fatigue, weight reduction and fibrosis (scarring) of the lungs.
Roughly 2.3 million US employees are uncovered to silica within the office, together with 2 million in development and 300,000 in different industries, based on the American Lung Association.
There are remedies accessible, however there isn’t any treatment for silicosis, and because the illness will get progressively worse, it’s typically deadly.
What are quartz counter tops product of?
Countertops referred to as “quartz” are literally product of a synthetic materials that features crushed silica (quartz) with resins, dyes and glass, based on the authors of the examine, printed Monday within the journal of JAMA Internal Medicine.
In 2021, these kinds of artificial stone surpassed plastic laminate to grow to be probably the most used countertop materials within the US, marking the primary time in many years that laminate was not the most well-liked countertop materials, market analysis exhibits.
Some market specialists forecast that the demand for quartz counter tops will develop to $13 billion by 2027 as customers want “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 regularly chosen on well-liked residence renovation exhibits because the “go-to” countertop materials for modern kitchen and loo designs.
But quartz counter tops comprise greater than triple the silica content material of pure supplies like granite or marble, and the well being influence of quartz counter tops turned obvious quickly after they hit the market.
Silicosis, as soon as a forgotten illness, is again
The first 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.
Throughout 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 fee of 19.5% amongst 1,053 employees who had been screened for the incurable illness.
In the newest examine, researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, UCLA and the California Department of Public Health discovered 52 California quartz countertop employees with silicosis.
Twenty of them had superior silicosis, and 10 died earlier than the examine concluded.
Should 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 circumstances. Even if we stopped it now, we’re going to be seeing these circumstances for the following decade as a result of [silicosis] takes years to develop.”
The researchers referred to as for public well being officers, docs and policymakers to implement measures to higher defend employees from publicity to silica mud, extra shortly diagnose circumstances of the illness and even ban quartz counter tops altogether.
Australia has thought of banning the product however has not but achieved so, as an alternative growing rules to assist cut back the chance of silicosis by means of higher air monitoring, coaching and reporting.
In 2019 and 2020, California security officers investigated the state’s countertop trade and located that about 72% of the 808 fabrication retailers working within the state had been “possible out of compliance with the prevailing silica customary,” placing tons of of employees liable to silicosis, based on NPR.
Last month, the County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors unanimously accepted 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,” based on LAist.
Additionally, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health has begun drafting emergency guidelines surrounding the manufacture and use of engineered quartz merchandise.