Granite, marble and other stone countertop workers are experiencing declining health and are suffering premature deaths at an alarming rate. This shocking finding was highlighted in a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report article published late last month. The journal is the publication of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The researchers who worked on the study found that workers who are responsible for manufacturing engineered stone countertops that are commonly used in Americans’ homes are increasingly being diagnosed with silicosis. The researchers argue that they’re being exposed to progressive lung disease while cutting, grinding or polishing these stones into countertops.
Granite, marble and other surfaces are replete with the dangerous silica mineral. Workers are exposed to it in the air at factories. It often gets trapped in their clothes or their noses, ears, hair and under their nails.
Some of the earliest signs of an onset of silicosis are chest pain, dizziness and fatigue. There’s little that can be done to help a worker once they start manifesting symptoms of the disease. So far, the only treatment for this condition is a lung transplant. Silicosis is such an aggressive disease that most individuals die waiting on a new organ. Workers at one factory died in their 30s while seeking treatment for their disease.
Currently, there are an estimated 100,000 individuals who work in the stone countertop fabrication industry here in the United States.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced that it would begin regulating how much silica dust would be allowed to exist in the air starting in 2016. While many employers have since taken measures to minimize workers’ exposure to these toxic particles, many of the 8,000 companies that operate in this sector have not.
If you feel as if your health has declined because of exposure to a toxic substance in your Dauphin workplace, then an attorney can provide sound advice on your disabling condition here in Pennsylvania.