Last week we covered claims made on reality TV show 'The Block' that engineered stone benchtops featured on the program were safe, 'just like beach sand.'
HSRs may have noticed full-page ads in metro newspapers and on social media placed by AESAG, claiming a ban on engineered stone benchtops ‘won't solve silicosis.’
In their petition, AESAG expresses ‘serious concerns about a wholesale ban’ which they claim is ‘unnecessary’ and ‘excessive’ and won't address the serious issue of silicosis.
They claim that focusing on engineered stone overlooks silica exposure in construction, even though the majority of silicosis cases are linked to their industry.
VTHC finds this position disingenuous.
Whilst it is true that silica exposure occurs in other industries, including in mining, tunnelling and quarries, the massive increase in silicosis amongst predominantly young men can be traced back to exposure to the silica in engineered stone.
AESAG emphasizes the safety of low-silica products (below 40%). The problem is that there is no credible evidence indicating a safe level of silica exposure.
Aside from silica, engineered stone has other hazards that are only beginning to be understood. New research indicates that when engineered stone is processed, it produces ultrafine particles along with volatile organic compounds, polyaromatic hydrocarbons, and metals, which may contribute to the accelerated silicosis seen in engineered stone workers.
The very small size of silica dust particles, created during processes like grinding, polishing, and drilling, allows them to penetrate deep into the lungs.
Elimination of the use of engineered stone is by far the safest way to proceed.