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The concentration of RCS in engineered stone benchtops can lead to accelerated silicosis. It is an emerging health condition that we are learning about at speed.
The health risks of working with RCS for stonemasons, tunnelers, miners, and concrete workers have been known for more than 100 years.
Accelerated silicosis is a type of progressive lung disease caused by exposure to high levels of silica dust, common in engineered stone cutting. It is a more aggressive form of silicosis and appears sooner and may progress faster than silicosis.
Accelerated silicosis is an emerging health condition that we are learning much about to ensure future cases can be prevented.
The aggressiveness of accelerated silicosis is usually to due to the concentration of RCS in engineered stone benchtops popular in kitchen and bathrooms, combined with a lack of adequate preventative or protective measures in workplaces fabricating the product.
There is minimal risk to people who follow safety regulations and guidance for working with stone products. We have extensive guidance on our website and some of the guidance has been translated into eight languages.
However, people who work with engineered stone benchtops can be at serious risk of exposure to RCS dust. This dust is created when materials containing silica are cut, ground, drilled, polished or otherwise disturbed, releasing RCS into the air.
Most people with respiratory symptoms who work with engineered stone benchtops will not have silicosis but may have other conditions such as asthma, smoking-related conditions, infections or allergies.
Engineered stone contains more than 90% silica, which is considerably higher than natural stone such as granite with less than 45% silica. RCS particles are extremely small and often invisible to the naked eye.
Further information and resources: