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J Occup Environ Hyg. 2012;9(7):437-42. doi: 10.1080/15459624.2012.684549.

Prevalence of dry methods in granite countertop fabrication in Oklahoma.

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Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA.


Granite countertop fabricators are at risk of exposure to respirable crystalline silica, which may cause silicosis and other lung conditions. The purpose of this study was to estimate the prevalence of exposure control methods, especially wet methods, in granite countertop fabrication in Oklahoma to assess how many workers might be at risk of overexposure to crystalline silica in this industry. Granite fabrication shops in the three largest metropolitan areas in Oklahoma were enumerated, and 47 of the 52 shops participated in a survey on fabrication methods. Countertop shops were small businesses with average work forces of fewer than 10 employees. Ten shops (21%) reported using exclusively wet methods during all fabrication steps. Thirty-five shops (74%) employing a total of about 200 workers reported using dry methods all or most of the time in at least one fabrication step. The tasks most often performed dry were edge profiling (17% of shops), cutting of grooves for reinforcing rods (62% of shops), and cutting of sink openings (45% of shops). All shops reported providing either half-face or full-face respirators for use during fabrication, but none reported doing respirator fit testing. Few shops reported using any kind of dust collection system. These findings suggest that current consumer demand for granite countertops is giving rise to a new wave of workers at risk of silicosis due to potential overexposure to granite dust.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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