General Information on Silica In Countertop Fabrication
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) have previously identified exposure to silica as a health hazard to workers involved in manufacturing, finishing, and installing natural and manufactured (i.e., man-made, engineered, artificial, or cultured) stone.
Workers in the stone countertop industry saw, grind, polish, and drill slabs of natural (mostly granite) and manufactured stone as part of manufacturing, finishing, and installing countertops. The highest silica levels are associated with manufactured countertops, where crystalline silica is mixed with resins, adhesives, and pigments.
Depending on the type of stone in question, these countertops may contain over 90% silica. Engineered stone, for example, contains at least 93% silica. This hazard can be mitigated with simple and effective dust controls including wet cutting, dust collection methods,and use of appropriate respiratory protection. We encourage you to review the below resources created by OSHA and the Natural Stone Institute for additional information on reducing silica exposure in countertop fabrication.