A paper recently released by Dr. Fazio and colleagues in JAMA Internal Medicine has shown a serious outbreak of 52 young male Spanish-speaking countertop workers with severe silicosis in California from 2019-2022. Publication: jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/article-abstract/2807615
NPR has covered the paper and issue: npr.org/sections/health-shots/2023/07/24/1189745247/silicosis-young-workers-kitchen-countertops-lung-damage-california
Silicosis is a disabling, nonreversible lung disease from exposure to respirable crystalline silica, which is created when cutting or grinding stone. Silica dust particles become trapped in lung tissue and reduce the lungs’ ability to take in oxygen. Silicosis results in permanent lung damage and is a progressive, debilitating disease.
The California Department of Public Health also released a Health Advisory on 7/25/23 titled: “Global Epidemic Comes to California: Silicosis in Countertop Workers.”
Those involved in engineered stone countertop fabrication and making countertops out of artificial stone, “quartz,” should immediately look into their work practices to take precaution and prevention for breathing in silica dust.
Working with Engineered Stone Countertop Fabrication short guide: Cal/OSHA Resource.
Although cases and deaths have been recently reported in California, experts believe this problem may not just be confined to this state.
The Southern California ERC will be hosting a 4-hour Silica Dust Exposure Prevention class online on August 30-31st from 10am-12pm Pacific Time, which will go over regulations, exposure control methods, and designing an effective training session for employees. You can Sign Up for the class Here.