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April 17, 2023 /  Granite,  Marble,  Quartzite,  Soapstone

The Dangers of Artificial Stones: Risks to Health and Environment

One of the biggest debates that we have in today’s world is: natural stones or artificial stones, which one is better? Even though natural stones may be more costly, the dangers of artificial stones can not be ignored.

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In this article, we will discuss the different types of artificial stones used for construction, the problems faced by factory workers due to the production process, the health issues that the process can cause, and the ban on artificial marbles by multiple countries because of their hazardous production processes.

Artificial stones, also known as engineered stones are made by combining natural minerals, such as quartz, granite, and marble, with resins and pigments. They have become increasingly popular in construction due to their durability, low maintenance requirements, and aesthetic appeal. However, the production process of artificial stones can pose significant risks to the health of factory workers and the environment.

Types of Artificial Stones Used for Construction

There are several types of artificial stones used for construction, including quartz, granite, and marble.

1. Artificial Quartz

It is the most popular type of artificial stone due to its strength and durability. It is made by combining quartz crystals with resins and pigments. This results in a material that is highly resistant to scratches, stains, and heat. Quartz is also available in a variety of colours and patterns, making it a versatile option for a range of applications.

2. Artificial Granite

Granite artificial stones are also commonly used in construction, and they are made by combining crushed granite with resins and pigments. This results in a material that is highly durable, scratch-resistant, and easy to maintain. Granite artificial stones are also available in a range of colours and patterns, making them suitable for a variety of applications.

3. Artificial Marble

Marble artificial stones, commonly known as cultured marble, on the other hand, are made by combining marble dust with resins and pigments. This results in a material that looks and feels like natural marble but is more durable and easier to maintain.

Now that we know the types of artificial stones available in the market, let’s get into the problems faced by factory workers due to their extensive production process.

  • The production process of artificial stones involves cutting, grinding, and polishing the stones, which generates a significant amount of dust. This dust contains particles of silica, a mineral that can cause serious health problems when inhaled. Factory workers who work in the production of artificial stones are at a high risk of exposure to silica dust, which can cause silicosis, a lung disease that can lead to permanent lung damage and even death.
  • Prolonged exposure to silica dust can cause other respiratory illnesses, such as lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The use of protective equipment, such as masks and gloves, is essential to reduce the risk of exposure to silica dust. However, these measures may not be enough to protect workers from the hazardous dust, and they may not be used properly due to inadequate training and supervision.
  • Silica dust is a hazardous material that can cause serious health problems when inhaled. The dust can enter the lungs and cause inflammation, scarring, and permanent lung damage. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 2.3 million people globally die each year due to respiratory diseases caused by exposure to silica dust.
  • The production process of artificial stones also poses significant risks to the environment. The process generates a significant amount of waste, including dust, slurry, and water. The waste contains high levels of silica and other hazardous materials, which can contaminate the soil and water sources. This can have a severe impact on the environment and public health.

Ban on Artificial Marbles by Multiple Countries Because of their Hazardous Process

Several countries have banned the production and use of artificial stones due to the health and environmental risks they pose. In 2018, the European Union (EU) banned the use of artificial stones containing more than 0.1% of crystalline silica. The ban was implemented to protect workers and consumers from the hazards of silica dust.

In the same year, India also banned the production and use of artificial stones due to the health risks they pose. The Ministry of Commerce and Industry issued a notification stating that the production and use of artificial stones are prohibited in the country. The decision was made after reports of several cases of silicosis among factory workers.

In 2020, Australia also banned the import and use of artificial stones containing more than 80% of crystalline silica. The ban was implemented to protect workers and consumers from the health risks associated with silica dust.

In conclusion, artificial stones are commonly used in construction due to their durability, low maintenance requirements, and aesthetic appeal. However, the production process poses significant risks to the health of factory workers and the environment.