The current CAL-OSHA and federal OSHA standard that requires wet-cutting methods, exhaust ventilation, and dust masks, half-face canister respirators, and full-face canister respirators when fabricating natural stone was based on the low content of silica particles found in natural stone that are sized in the low micron range, and not the high volume of ultrafine or nanosized silica particles contained in engineered stone. As a result, the current OSHA standard does not provide adequate protection for the massive numbers of ultrafine and nanosized crystalline silica particles to which fabricators are exposed. For an analysis of the toxicological characteristics of engineered stone such as high concentration, ultrafine particles, irregular shapes, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and free radicalsa that cause severe silicosis see Why are the Particles Generated By Artificial Stone More Toxic Than Particles Generated By Natural Stone? – July 20, 2023 by Michael Wilson, Ph.D, MPH, CIH at CAL-OSHA.

Pequeñas partículas de sílice nanométricas

Máscara contra el polvo Respirador de media cara Respirador de cara completa

Required Respiratory Protection for Artificial Stone Fabrication Workers

  • Working without a mask does not prevent disease.
  • N-95 masks do not prevent disease.
  • A half or full-face elastomeric OV (organic vapor)/P-100 cartridge filter respirator will reduce, but not prevent disease. Also, note that the cartridge/filters must be regularly replaced.
  • A Powered Air Purifying Respirator (PAPR) with an APF (Assigned Protection Factor) of 25/1000, if consistently used on conjunction with wet-equipment and no compressed air, should prevent most disease.
  • Supplied air respirators (SAR) with an APF (Assigned Protection Factor) of 1000, if consistently used on conjunction with wet-equipment and no compressed air, will prevent most disease.

Hombre en un respirador Pulido de piedra de ingeniería polvorientaPersona que fabrica piedra de ingeniería polvorienta


Crédito de vídeo: SHES en Georgia Tech

Los estudios han demostrado que los trabajadores en los talleres de fabricación de piedra de ingeniería están expuestos a un promedio de 227 ug/m3, que es 4,5 veces el límite de exposición del permiso (PEL) de OSHA para sílice y 9 veces el nivel de acción de OSHA. Sin controles, las exposiciones oscilaron hasta 2300 ug/m3, que es 46 veces el PEL. Incluso cuando se usaron los métodos de control de OSHA, las exposiciones variaron hasta 360 ug/m3. Dicho de otra manera, el agua y la ventilación por extracción no reducen la exposición a la sílice por debajo del PEL de sílice de OSHA. Por lo tanto, los únicos métodos capaces de prevenir completamente la enfermedad son los respiradores de presión positiva alimentados con aire completo o la prohibición de la fabricación y venta de piedra de ingeniería.

Respirador purificador de aire eléctrico personas que usan respirador alimentado por aire de presión positiva persona que usa un respirador alimentado por aire de presión positiva

Según la OMS (Organización Mundial de la Salud), no existe un nivel seguro de exposición al polvo de sílice: “no se puede suponer que existe un umbral en el que la exposición a la sílice no provocaría silicosis y/o cáncer de pulmón”.

Hay cuatro métodos principales de exposición de los trabajadores a la sílice de la fabricación de piedra de ingeniería: directa dentro de su zona de respiración inmediata, espectador de los trabajadores cercanos, exposición secundaria por resuspensión o reincorporación de polvo sedimentado y exposición secundaria por inhalación de partículas de agua que contienen polvo.

While not as effective at disease prevention as an air fed positive pressure respirator or a complete ban, the CDPH (California Department of Public Health) – Occupational Health Branch maintains an updated website with Silica Safety Resources for Stone Fabricators and in Spanish at Fabricantes de Encimeras y Enfermedad Pulmonar.   The CDPH site includes:

The California Labor Lab and the University of San Francisco maintain an updated California Artificial Stone and Silicosis Project

The Texas Department of Health & Human Services – Silica Health Advisory maintains a worker health advisor – Worker Exposure to Silica Dust During Stone Countertop Fabrication – March 18, 2019

Georgia Tech’s Department of Safety, Health, & Environmental Services maintains training modules in English and Spanish for fabrication shop Control of Silica Exposure In Engineered Stone Fabrication Facilities

The U.S. Department of Labor – OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) has issued two respirable crystalline silica standards to protect workers.

OSHA and NIOSH have issued a Hazard Alert found at Worker Exposure to Silica during Countertop Manufacturing, Finishing, and Installation.   Artificial stone fabrication workers have a right to a safe workplace.  For information about OSHA worker rights and how to file a complaint with OSHA, see OSHA Worker Rights and Protections

The Western Occupational & Environmental Medical Association (WOEMA), has established the Silica Medical Exam Practitioner Roster, which is a list of medical facilities in California, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and Hawaii which offer silicosis medical surveillance examinations for artificial stone workers.

Hable con un abogado: análisis de caso sin costo

Engineered stone (Quartz) (artificial) (manufactured) countertop workers, who have been diagnosed with silicosis or lung cancer, or believe they may have silicosis,  contact us online or call us at (855) 335-8606 for a no cost case analysis.  You may be entitled to monetary recovery.  Protect your rights.

For an overview of engineered stone, why it is dangerous, and how it causes silicosis and other diseases, click here

To learn about Safety and Medical resources, and how to reduce or eliminate exposure to silica, 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