Characterisation of dust emissions from machined engineered stones to understand the hazard for accelerated silicosis

Sci Rep. 2022 Mar 14;12(1):4351. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-08378-8.


Engineered stones are novel construction materials associated with a recent upsurge in silicosis cases among workers in the stonemason industry. In order to understand the hazard for the short latency of lung disease among stonemasons, we simulated real-time dust exposure scenario by dry-machining engineered stones in controlled conditions, capturing and analysing the respirable dust generated for physical and chemical characteristics. Natural granite and marble were included for comparison. Cutting engineered stones generated high concentrations of very fine particles (< 1 µm) with > 80% respirable crystalline silica content, in the form of quartz and cristobalite. Engineered stones also contained 8-20% resin and 1-8% by weight metal elements. In comparison, natural stones had far lower respirable crystalline silica (4- 30%) and much higher metal content, 29-37%. Natural stone dust emissions also had a smaller surface area than engineered stone, as well as lower surface charge. This study highlighted the physical and chemical variability within engineered stone types as well as between engineered and natural stones. This information will ultimately help understand the unique hazard posed by engineered stone fabrication work and help guide the development of specific engineering control measures targeting lower exposure to respirable crystalline silica.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Dust / analysis
  • Humans
  • Inhalation Exposure / analysis
  • Occupational Exposure* / adverse effects
  • Occupational Exposure* / analysis
  • Quartz
  • Silicon Dioxide / analysis
  • Silicosis* / etiology


  • Dust
  • Quartz
  • Silicon Dioxide