Today we’re talking stone, it’s a material that’s so common in premium kitchens – and bathrooms sometimes too of course – especially in the form of engineered quartz.
So we’re going to ask two really important questions – firstly, do designers and retailers really understand how to use stone, the properties the different types have, and how it should be installed and maintained?
And secondly, we’re going to look at the dangers of fabricating stone in the form of silicosis, a horrible lung disease caused by breathing in the silica dust created when it’s being cut. It has been around since humans starting cutting stone, but even in 2023 it can be controversial.
That’s particularly true in Australia where, earlier this year, the government got another step closer to BANNING engineered stone because of an alarming rise in cases of silicosis among stone masons and fabricators.
In fact, silicosis has been called a ‘public health crisis’ in that country.
However, those that make it – and those that are involved in the professional fabrication of it – have said that all the safety precautions available are more than sufficient and the issue is about whether or not they’re followed, not whether the material itself is intrinsically dangerous.
But alarmist Daily Mail headlines like ‘Trendy quartz kitchen worktops are fuelling a resurgence of the ‘world’s oldest occupational disease’ among stone masons that can lead to chest infections and lung cancer‘ does not help consumer confidence.
So, last week podcast host Andrew Davies went off to the ExCel centre in London to visit the Natural Stone Show and the Hard Surfaces show where he caught up with Andy Phillips, the director of fabricator Affordable Granite in Surrey as well as being one of the founders of the Worktop Fabricators Federation. As you can imagine, that organisation has a lot to say about stone, silicosis and how much retailers do or don’t understand.