The Hidden Dangers of Engineered Stone in Your Kitchen Makeover

Posted by Admin on Saturday, November 25, 2023 Under: Health and Safety

As more homeowners seek to upgrade their kitchens, engineered stone countertops have become a popular choice for their sleek appearance and durability. However, what many people may not realize is that there are hidden dangers associated with these stylish surfaces. In this article, we will explore the composition and manufacturing process of engineered stone, discuss the health hazards and emissions associated with its use, and provide safe alternatives and recommendations for a healthier kitchen makeover.


Photo by Christian Mackie on Unsplash

Composition and Manufacturing Process

Engineered stone, also known as quartz composite or quartz surfacing, is a man-made material that is composed of approximately 90% quartz crystals. These crystals are mixed with a binder, typically a polymer resin, and various other additives and pigments to create the desired colour and texture. This mixture is then poured into moulds and cured under high heat and pressure to form solid slabs.

One of the main concerns with engineered stone countertops is the presence of silica, a naturally occurring mineral found in quartz. Silica is known to cause respiratory issues, particularly when it is in a crystalline form known as respirable crystalline silica (RCS). When the engineered stone is cut, drilled or ground during the manufacturing or installation process, RCS particles can be released into the air and inhaled by workers and homeowners.

Health Hazards and Emissions

The inhalation of RCS particles can lead to serious health problems, including silicosis, a lung disease caused by the buildup of fibrous tissue in the lungs. Prolonged exposure to RCS can also increase the risk of developing lung cancer and other respiratory conditions.

Furthermore, engineered stone countertops can emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other harmful substances. VOCs are chemicals that are released as gases from certain materials, including adhesives and resins used in the manufacturing of engineered stone. Breathing in high levels of VOCs can cause a range of health issues, including eye, nose, and throat irritation, headaches, dizziness, and even long-term damage to the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system.

In addition to RCS and VOCs, some engineered stone countertops have been found to contain trace amounts of radon, a radioactive gas that is known to cause lung cancer. Radon is a naturally occurring gas that can be released from certain types of rocks and soils, including the quartz used in engineered stone.

Alternatives and Recommendations

While engineered stone countertops may offer aesthetic appeal and durability, it is important to consider the potential health risks associated with their use. Fortunately, there are safe alternatives available for homeowners who want to avoid the hidden dangers of engineered stone in their kitchen makeovers.

  1. Natural Stone: Opt for natural stone countertops, such as granite or marble. These materials are quarried from the earth and do not contain the same level of silica or emissions as engineered stone. However, it is crucial to choose slabs that have been tested for radon levels to ensure safety.

  2. Solid Surface: Solid surface countertops, made from acrylic or polyester materials, are another safe alternative. They are non-porous, easy to clean, and do not emit harmful substances like RCS or VOCs.

  3. Laminate: Laminate countertops offer a cost-effective and low-risk option. They are made from layers of paper or fabric infused with resin, providing a durable and easy-to-maintain surface.

  4. Sealing and Ventilation: If you opt for engineered stone countertops, ensure that they are properly sealed to minimize the release of RCS particles. Additionally, make sure your kitchen has adequate ventilation to remove potential VOCs and other emissions. Furthermore, any work to the stone should ideally occur in a workshop with workers wearing the necessary personal protective equipment at all times.

  5. Regular Maintenance: Regularly clean your countertops to remove any dust or particles that may accumulate and pose a health risk. Use a wet cloth or mop instead of dry dusting to prevent RCS particles from becoming airborne.

Some manufacturers of engineered stone, like Caesarstone, have taken the initiative to start using material with low-silica content in the manufacturing of their products. Check the website of your preferred supplier to establish how they are addressing safety concerns around engineered stone.

In conclusion, while engineered stone countertops have gained popularity in kitchen makeovers, it is crucial to be aware of the hidden dangers associated with their use. The presence of silica, the release of RCS particles, and the emission of VOCs and radon can pose serious health hazards. By choosing safe alternatives and implementing proper installation, maintenance and ventilation measures, you can ensure a healthier kitchen environment for you and your family.


In : Health and Safety 

Tags: "kitchen makeover" "bathroom remodel" caesarstone 
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