What’s the Problem with Engineered Stone Countertops?
Engineered stone countertops are made from quartz aggregate held together with a resin binder. These materials are similar in appearance to natural stone, and have become increasingly popular in the U.S. due to their cheaper price and durability. Unfortunately, engineered stone countertops have been found to contain substantially more crystalline silica than natural stone (>90%, compared with <45% in granite).
What is Silicosis?
Silicosis is an incurable lung disease caused by inhaling particles of respirable crystalline silica, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Over time, inhaled crystalline silica triggers inflammation and fibrosis in the lungs, causing irreversible and potentially deadly lung disease.
Silica exposure has also been linked to an increased risk for lung infections, tuberculosis, lung cancer, emphysema, autoimmune diseases, and kidney disease. A recent CDC study found at least 18 cases of silicosis, including 2 deaths, among stone fabrication workers in 4 states.
There are 3 types of silicosis, each with its own signs and symptoms:
- Chronic Silicosis – Occurs after 15–20 years of moderate to low exposures to respirable crystalline silica. Symptoms of chronic silicosis, which may or may not be obvious, include extreme shortness of breath with exercising, fatigue, chest pain, or respiratory failure.
- Accelerated silicosis – Can occur after 5-10 years of high exposures to respirable crystalline silica. Symptoms include severe shortness of breath, weakness, and weight loss.
- Acute silicosis – Occurs after a few months or as long as 2 years following exposures to high concentrations of respirable crystalline silica. Symptoms of acute silicosis include severe disabling shortness of breath, weakness, and weight loss, which often leads to death.
Which Occupations are at Risk?
According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the most severe exposures to crystalline silica result from abrasive blasting, which is done to clean and smooth irregularities from molds, jewelry, and foundry castings. Other exposures to silica dust occur in the following occupations:
- Cement and brick manufacturing
- Asphalt pavement manufacturing
- China and ceramic manufacturing
- Tool and die trades
- Steel and foundry industries
Understanding Silicosis: American Lung Association Video
Unfortunately, there is no cure for silicosis. Treatment depends on the type of silicosis a patient has and the management of symptoms. Some patients may require breathing support and treatment with oxygen. Others may need inhaled steroids or bronchodilators to decrease sputum production and relax the air tubes, according to the CDC.
Since silicosis affects lung function, it makes a person more likely to develop lung conditions like tuberculosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, and lung cancer. Additionally, smoking cigarettes causes lung damage which can worsen complications of silicosis.
Can I File a Class Action?
Although Schmidt & Clark, LLP, is a nationally-recognized class action law firm, we have decided against filing this type of claim in the silicosis litigation. Our lawyers feel that individual lawsuits, instead of a class action, are more likely to result in a settlement that will maximize payouts to our clients.
Do I Have a Silicosis Lawsuit?
The Products Liability Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in Silicosis Lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new injury and death cases in all 50 states.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with silicosis, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to a settlement by filing a suit and we can help.