Crystalline Silica Quartz : Health Issues

Crystalline silica quartz has a serious health issue. Many of you have not heard of NEPSI, neither have the slightest idea of what it stands for. Well I’m sure you all are aware of the health dangerous behind the use of silica, and today it’s used in several industries, being engineered stone one of them with great exposure. Also granite workshops and other types of materials have similar health hazards issues.
So NEPSI is a European network for silica, on the 26th of April of 2006 and important agreement was attained between employers and employees the “Agreement on Workers’ Health Protection Through the Good Handling and Use of Crystalline Products and Products Containing It”. This is a true landmark for health issues regarding the use of Crystalline Silica or as some may frequently see it chemically as SiO2.
Although crystalline silica is little harmful in it’s natural environment, truth is that in a dust state if inhaled it can be very harmful for ones health. And when we look at engineered quartz or granite, and the way it’s fabricated, great hazards may arise if the fabricating units are not of aware of these dangers.
The agreement that I mentioned involves several industries, however every fabricating unit for stone is included and my effort goes towards these fabricating units to prevent dangerous to the workers. The main danger is for the worker who inhales the dust that normally originates from the cutting of the countertop or other cut-to-size pieces.
But  the danger of inhalation may also occur at the installation point, frequently, adjustments have to be made, and small adjustments are made locally in your home, in your kitchen, and anyone who is exposed will inhale this dust that is extremely dangerous to human health.
The consequences of inhalation of this type of dust can in time cause irritations or inflammations of the upper respiratory system, may cause bronchitis, inflammation of the bronchia and of the pulmonary tissues. These cases facilitate the deployment of the harmful effect of toxic, carcinogenic and allergenic dust particles, that occur in the respiratory passages to other organs of the human body. Cancer is a harsh word to use, but it is the main health hazard involved in this issue.
The protection against dangerous caused by silica dust have been in Europe with the Chemical Agents Directive 98/24/EC of 7/4/1998. Basically it indicates the necessity to substitute dangerous particles with others. Silica type substances as a raw material have not been able to be replaced in most of the industries and inclusive and increase in use has been noticed in the last few years, especially regarding the Engineered Stone sector.
It’s obvious if the dangerous silica dust can not be substituted then it must be, seriously accompanied by the employers involving their health and security personnel, applying measure and physical protection to the workers to minimize health hazards.
Some measures that should be taken:
  • Protective respiratory masks should be worn at all times;
  • Cutting should be done with water avoiding dust particles;
  • Aspiration or vacuum  units should be functioning to filter the air of the fabricating units;
  • Workers should be aware of the dangerous involved in these operations
  • Re-designing work processes to minimize the hazards involved
  •  The shop floor air should be tested frequently to ensure that the filtering systems are working properly and complying with safety measures
  • Health Check-ups on personnel should be done frequently to ensure their safety and health
  • All working procedures that involve health and safety are compulsatory, the ruling has to be taken to the limit;
  •  Cleaning of the workspace, avoid brooms, proper vacuum systems are advised with the proper disposal of the accumulated dust extracted by these equipments.


Engineered Quartz : Countertop Edges

It has been a common issue miter joint skirts and countertop edges, today I’m going to hopeful give you some  really interesting  ways to perfect, other types of countertop edges. As I have said times before in my prior posts, a hidden joint is synonymous to professional perfection.
The miter joint skirt works well on some countertops, although other need a wider underneath support for a correct fitting on the cabinet, and in some cases it requires a thick solid edge of 40mm or even 50 mm, that may need a inner width of 100 mm for stability reasons.
So basically in these cases, you will find several ways of doing it, although one of the easiest and following these steps will be near perfection, with little risk of damaging raw materials while working on the counter. We always have to look at the risk we put on the countertop, after all the raw material is quite expensive, and after we have the shade variations, so we have to keep a keen eye on every detail.
Things you will need to make a perfect union, is proper adhesive, it’s normally a bi-component similar to the ones used on your day to day work, although with some special additive due to the fact of being quartz, quartz has very low porosity, for a resin to do a proper and lasting chemical link a chemical additive is  used for this effect, anyone interested in this type of information feel free to e-mail me. So we have component 1 as a polyester resin based adhesive glue pigmented to the right color (as I mentioned on my prior post, it’s iron oxide pigment, anyone with some practice can do it easily). The component 2 is a hardening agent, is basically a PBO catalyst paste used to accelerate the hardening of the glue.
Regarding the use of glue, read the instructions carefully, and remember temperature affects the hardening speed, so keep adapting your adhesive glue according to the weather conditions.
As before you’ll need some useful tools and in this case a few rubber tipped clamps and a good worktable.
Clean thoroughly the areas to be glued, make sure they’re as calibrated as possible, the glue like before the thinner the better.After it starts hardening clean the surface of the excess glue.
Some people to avoid the problems the joint area causes, just bevel both ends and use this solution commonly, everyone easily notices that they have been glued together.
My suggestion which has improved greatly the final finish and quality of the joint, is after gluing the two pieces, do an extra pass on the head polishing machine, and you will see wonders happen, it literally hides the joint fairly well, however it is important that the glue mixture is made to a perfect color combination.
Looking at other improvements that can be made in most countertops, however I know very few of us really want the bother with it and cost to add this feature is never worth it, but I believe it’s really a great add on to the final client. It’s an anti-drip cut underneath the counter. If you spill a glass of water on top of your counter the most probable thing that will happen is that it’ll just drip down your beautiful wood cabinet. With this ant-drip cut, just as we normally do on wall coverings or windowsills, the water will drip directly onto the floor. In this case, avoiding humidity on your kitchen cabinets.
When it comes to countertops either in granite or engineered stone we have so many options, and so many possibilities, I just hope to contribute with useful information.