Australia bans artificial stone

I confess this that the health risks from working with artificial / engineered stone is something I had not really thought about. I see that it’s being banned in Australia from next year, which means that other countries are likely to follow. It’s going to be interesting for the kitchen and bathroom industry. Our worktops and kitchen and bathroom windowsills are solid granite, which are imagine are less risky to health when being cut.

Dreadful, but you might have hoped HSE would have made the connection?

I’d bet that most or all of those affected were using inadequate control measures to avoid dust being released into the atmosphere and then inhaled. Non-compliance with regulations that enforce control measures is rife in my experience.
Still, eliminating the hazard in the first place is generally the safest option, so perhaps the ban is the right thing to do.

I am not sure what difference there is in health risk between the cutting and working of natural stone vs man-made “stone” materials, though certainly microcrystalline quartz has long been recognised as extremely hazardous, and in UK health and safety at work legislation there are strict limits on exposure, with a compulsory requirement for employers to monitor. Many of these reconstituted materials do use quartz (as a waste by-product from other stone working) – indeed they often (erroneously)call them quartz worktops. Given the strict controls on workplace exposure to the dust, I don’t really see why they should be banned. If they are banned, then the use of natural stone will increase. Whilst personally I think granite is better than the manmade worktops, reversing currently increasing trend to use manmade will use up natural resources and lead to firstly higher prices and eventually to a ban on these.

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Interestingly there has been some UK research on this. Extra precautions for individuals needed but the interesting thing for me was the first acknowledgment that there is zero protection for people in the local environment and some evidence that that could be quite a significant issue.

Whilst i won’t click on a Bill Gates funded rag, I know there are big problems with this material, same as MDF which can be very dangerous depending on the exposure.


The Guardian is not funded by Bill Gates - it’s complete nonsense that you repeat.


I’m not sure what do you mean by local environment? Sourcing the stone (normally waste from other processes)? Or fitting a kitchen/bathroom (where things like drillIng of tap holes maybe done in some instances, or correction of minor errors in templating or original factory preparation? Or something else?

The first of these is covered by H&S requirements if in UK or an EU country, all of which I think (not absolutely certain) have the same exposure limits, but maybe not the same enforcement, but the very likely not in Third World countries. Local fitting is almost invariably by professionals, who are obliged to follow H&S requirements - but then of course not all contractors do things how they’re supposed to.

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Stuff is dangerous it had already been outlawed in large construction sites and it was only a matter of time before it was banned altogether.

We’re building next year and means we’ll need to find a healthy option.

The Guardian is wholly owned by the Scott Trust, a charitable foundation. I would need to check who all the trustees are, but the newspaper’s current editor is always one - Peter Preston, succeeded by Alan Rusbridger, when I used to act as a legal adviser to the newspaper. (So Katherine Viner must be on the board these days.)

Bill Gates is not a trustee, what a strange idea that is.

We’ll have the Illuminati getting involved soon, along with Christ’s Holy Blood and The Holy Grail (last seen in Rosslyn Chapel outside Edinburgh with Dolly the sheep!).


To be honest this had not really occurred to me. We used engineered stone extensively for counters in the bathroom and washrooms. Unclear whether the kitchen falls into the category of ceramic or artificial stone.

One thing I noticed when choosing material was that genuine stone was often cost prohibitive or not available in large 3m long slabs. But the other thing I’ve experienced is artificial stone is a lot more resilient to hard water limescale around the base of faucets.

Still, times change and whining serves no purpose. Not least because our build is complete.

A lot of building materials generate ultra fine powder dust though when cut. I have to wonder whether artifial stone is really more hazardous than cutting oxide tiles or plain old gypsum.

I can see this coming to the UK, sooner rather than latter to be honest. Although we do have strict H&S laws in place for handling and machining within production workplaces, the same laws are not enforced outside of the factory environment.
I have all the safety equipment and dust extraction i need to safely machine and polish engineered stone, but am laughed at on a regular basis by other people within the kitchen industry. Why am i laughed at ? because they see it as a non issue.
They see no need to spend the money on doing the job safely, they see no need to take twice as long to do the job because of the setting up time.
When you look at the figures for Silicosis, 15 to 20% of people of people who work in this field have silicosis or will develop it with most of them being under the age of 35.
This is easily a much bigger issue than Asbestosis ever was and needs to be dealt with now, unlike Asbestos which took over 50 years to deal with because of all the big industrial vested interests.


Waaay off topic but the Guardian owners (The Scott Trust) do receive some grant funding from the Bill and Melissa Gates Foundation to report on global health issues. Items that have received funding are clearly indicated when published. Don’t remember seeing any myself but that strikes me as rather greater transparency than the vast majority of media organisations.

The Guardian is not run for profit; the Scott Trust was established to maintain the editorial and financial independence of the organisation.



I do love the idea that somehow not reading a newspaper because of who funds it somehow makes the views within it worthless. It’s founded on an assumption that readers who read a specific publication rather than another are blind to the views expressed within and accept them all without ever questioning from whence
they came. I read both The Guardian and The Times as MSM. I read lots of other stuff as well.

Those of you dismissing the Gates comment above need to do better research before expressing an opinion. The Gates Foundation has given more than 300m dollars to the media globally. Around 12m of that has gone to the Guardian. Is that in support of a specific agenda? Well, yes, of course. Does that somehow make all the views in said newspaper invalid? No. Do I agree with them all? No.

The other side of this of course is that Martin has yet to specify what he does read which isn’t supported by someone with money trying to influence the output.


Let’s try to keep the thread on topic please. Thanks.


Whilst fine dust is hazardous to health, certain substances are far more so. As I mentioned in an earlier post, microcrystalline quartz is one such. Crystalline silica, of which quartz is one form, in UK &EU has a workplace exposure limit of 0.1 milligrams per cubic metre of air. For fused silica it is 0.08. For other silica small enough to be inhalable deep into the lungs the limit is 4, the same for general unspecified dust, marble, gypsum (as in plaster) and portland cement. The COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) Regulations require these limits to be complied with in the workplace, with exposure checked and assessed, and in some circumstances additional monitoring. Other countries of course may have different or no legislation and standards.

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Gee you’re definitely on a roll we could even end up friends. :grin:

Rather excitingly, I have received an email this morning with an invitation to join the Illuminati! Surely this can’t be a coincidence!


I know what Gates’ relationship is with the Guardian.

That can’t be a genuine invitation - my sources tell me that invitations are delivered personally by mysterious monks wearing brown habits.