Brayton Purcell, LLP featured in article published by The Hill

NOVATO, Calif., April 17, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — On April 12, 2024, Brayton Purcell, LLP was referenced in news from an article published by The Hill, which highlights the alarming issue of silicosis among Latino immigrant workers in California. These workers, many of whom are involved in manufacturing quartz kitchen countertops, are contracting this deadly lung disease due to exposure to silica dust. The fabrication of quartz, a material containing over 90 percent silica, releases fine dust particles that, when inhaled, lead to the disease.


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Workers in artificial stone fab shops are exposed to silica levels averaging 4.5 times OSHA Permitted Exposure Limits.

The article states, “According to Brayton Purcell, a law firm with expertise on the prevention of silicosis, the current CAL-OSHA and federal OSHA standard requires wet-cutting methods, exhaust ventilation and dust masks, half-face canister respirators and full-face canister respirators when fabricating natural stone. These standards, however, are based on the low content of silica particles in natural stone that are sized in the low micron range, not the high volume of ultrafine or nanosized silica particles contained in quartz engineered stone. Workers in engineered stone fabrication shops are exposed to an average of 227 ug/m3, which is 4.5 times the OSHA Permitted Exposure Limit for silica; and the required measures do not reduce silica exposures to being below that level.  

The only methods capable of fully preventing silicosis are air-fed positive pressure respirators or a ban on the manufacture and sale of engineered stone.”

Below is a summary of the article titled, Incurable and unconscionable: How immigrants are contracting deadly lung disease making kitchen countertops ;

Silicosis Threat in California:

  • Latino immigrant workers in California’s quartz countertop manufacturing are falling ill and dying from silicosis.
  • Quartz material, with over 90% silica, releases dangerous dust when processed.

Inadequate Safety Standards:

  • Current CAL-OSHA and federal OSHA standards are insufficient for quartz stone work.
  • Workers face silica levels 4.5 times higher than the permitted exposure limit.
  • Only air-fed respirators or a ban on engineered stone can fully prevent silicosis.

Industry Risk Statistics:

  • Approximately 4,000 workers at risk in the stone fabrication industry.
  • Estimates suggest up to 850 could develop silicosis; 160 could die from it.

Current Protections and Limitations:

  • Emergency measures require better work practices and protective equipment.
  • Effectiveness hinges on California’s enforcement of proper respirator use.

Historical Context and Ongoing Risks:

  • Silicosis fatalities are not new; similar cases occurred during the Great Depression.
  • International efforts to eliminate silicosis by 2030 contrast with ongoing outbreaks.

Worker Vulnerability:

  • Non-English speaking, undocumented workers are especially at risk due to exploitative conditions.
  • Threats of immigration action prevent reporting of unsafe work environments.

Health Impact and Legislative Dilemma:

  • Silicosis leads to irreversible lung damage and heightens the risk of severe diseases.
  • California debates stringent worker protection vs. banning high-silica materials.
  • A production ban doesn’t help those already suffering from the disease.

To read the full article published by The Hill, please click here; Incurable and unconscionable: How immigrants are contracting deadly lung disease making kitchen countertops

About Brayton Purcell, LLP:

At Brayton Purcell, LLP, we have a client base in all 50 states, earning our AV Preeminent-rated* firm a nationwide reputation for multimillion-dollar verdicts and settlements. Asbestos and artificial stone silica exposure victims and their family members have high expectations when retaining our firm. We want to do more than live up to those expectations. We want to exceed them. For over 40 years, client service has come first. We are a leader in asbestos trials and litigation born of decades-long national verdicts, settlements, product and location database essential for cases, and courteous, professional staffing at all levels of client services.

Media Contact:
Nolan Lowry
[email protected] 

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SOURCE Brayton Purcell LLP