Countertops made of the engineered stone "quartz" are incredibly popular, but public health experts say cutting this material unsafely can expose workers to deadly dust.
It will now be easier for the government to inspect shops where workers might get exposed to lung-damaging silica dust. But it's unclear how much it will affect countertop workers.
Slabs of engineered quartz are cut to order in thousands of shops around the country that may not adequately protect workers from dangerous levels of the lung-damaging contaminant.
The story of the first worker in the U.S. to suffer lung damage after cutting a new kind of countertop material shows the way a workplace hazard emerged in this country.
Irreversible lung disease has started to show up among young workers who cut, grind and polish countertops made of increasingly popular "engineered" stone. The material is more than 90% silica.
When photographer Simone Francescangeli took pictures of the miners, he was struck by the dangerous environment — and the number of children he saw working in the mines.
Long known as a workplace hazard, silica dust can cause irreversible lung scarring and cancer. The Department of Labor expects its new limit to save about 600 lives a year. But industry is balking.