Kitchen company refuses to sell high-silica surfaces

Elly Simmons and William Durrant, owners of Herringbone

Following what it calls “disturbing reports” about quartz worktops, kitchen company Herringbone has decided to phase out the sale of the high-silica products to clients.

In a public statement, Herringbone explained that although the materials don’t pose a risk to clients, there is a possible health risk when it is produced and cut by stonemasons.

The company said its decision has been informed by several recent developments, such as Australia’s decision to ban the sale of engineered stone surfaces, as well as a report from the University of California linking respiratory illnesses to engineered stone fabrication.

Herringbone said it has a “responsibility to prioritise the health of all stonemasons by taking immediate action against the use of high-silica quartz in its products”. Although Herringbone accepts that there is no danger to homeowners once the product has been installed, it believes the material carries a risk when it is produced and cut by stonemasons and silica dust is released. According to the company, it believes it is the first UK studio to make such a public decision to phase out high-silica quartz worktops.

William Durrant, owner of Herringbone, explained: “Our priority is to keep our staff, suppliers, and clients safe and so we will no longer be offering high-silica quartz options to new clients.

“We apologise to our clients that this is quite a big change for us in a short period of time, however, we wanted to act quickly to prevent anyone from being harmed. We are the first company in the UK that we know of to ban the sale of high-silica quartz, but we hope that more companies follow suit in the coming months. We hope you can understand why we made this decision and can stand behind us in working to keep the industry safe and accountable.

“Our stonemasons are confident that they have the strongest health and safety measures in place to protect their team and use water cutting to ensure this is safely done in their factory. However, for us these risks are not necessary when there are alternatives on the market.”

According to the company, the decision is in line with its ethos of using sustainable, ethically-sourced materials. It is now asking its clients to pay slightly more for a worktop that it says is safer for stonemasons.

In addition to the announcement, Herringbone also recommended several low-silica alternative products from Silestone. These included colourways such as Versailles Ivory, Snowy Ibiza or Miami Vena.

In related news, Wilsonart-owned quartz specialist Technistone recently committed to stop supplying materials to fabricators that “dry cut” their stone slabs, to ensure safety for stone workers.

Following the Australian government’s decision last year, Caesarstone released a business update stating its belief that “the products are safe to fabricate under safe working practices”. Similarly, the UK’s Worktop Fabricators Federation (WFF) outlined its stance that there is no need for a total ban on quartz surfaces, and that rigorous safety and best practice regulations are the best way to handle any risks they pose.

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