The Dark Side of Engineered Stone: Why It’s Being Banned and What You Can Use Instead
Engineered stone is a popular construction material that is used for its durability and low maintenance. However, the Australian government is considering a ban on the material due to health risks associated with its production and installation. Fortunately, there are several safe and sustainable alternatives to engineered stone that can be used in construction projects. In this article, we will define engineered stone, discuss its benefits and health risks, and explore the alternatives that builders and homeowners can choose from.
What is Engineered Stone?
Engineered stone, also known as quartz or agglomerate stone, is a composite material that is made by mixing crushed stone with a resin binder. This material is manufactured in a factory and can be customised to meet the specific needs of a construction project. One of the benefits of engineered stone is that it is extremely durable and resistant to scratches, stains and heat. It is also non-porous, which makes it easy to clean and maintain.
Why is Engineered Stone Being Banned in Australia?
Despite its many benefits, engineered stone poses serious health risks to workers involved in its production and installation. The material contains high levels of silica, which can be released into the air as dust during the manufacturing process. Workers who are exposed to this dust are at risk of developing silicosis, a lung disease that can be fatal. Other respiratory diseases such as lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and tuberculosis can also develop as a result of exposure to silica dust.
According to a recent report by the Cancer Council, there has been a significant increase in the number of silicosis cases in Australia, with more than 1,000 workers affected since 2011. This has prompted the government to take action to prevent further cases of the disease.
Alternatives to Engineered Stone
Fortunately, there are several safe and sustainable alternatives to engineered stone that can be used in construction. Some of these alternatives include natural stone, concrete and solid surface materials.
Natural stone, such as granite and marble, is a popular alternative to engineered stone. It’s a natural material that’s extracted from the earth, making it a more sustainable option. Natural stone is also durable and long-lasting, and it comes in a variety of colours and patterns.
A composite material consisting of chips of marble, glass or other materials embedded in a cement or epoxy matrix, terrazzo is another fantastic engineered stone alternative. Terrazzo slabs are durable, sustainable and have a unique and distinctive look that can add character and style to any space.
Solid Surface Materials
Solid surface materials, such as Corian and Avonite, are synthetic materials that are made from a combination of acrylic and polyester resins. They are non-porous, which makes them easy to clean and maintain. As with natural stone and concrete, solid surface materials are also available in a variety of colours and patterns.
Comparing the benefits of each alternative, natural stone offers a unique beauty and durability, but it can be more expensive than other options. Concrete offers versatility and customisation, but it may require more maintenance and can be prone to cracking. Solid surface materials offer a modern and sleek look, but they may not be as durable as natural stone or concrete.
Porcelain slabs can be a great alternative to engineered stone for a variety of applications, and are made from natural materials, such as clay, feldspar, and other minerals. The slabs are fired at high temperatures to create a strong, durable and low-porous material.
What Should Builders and Homeowners Do?
To protect themselves and their workers from the health risks associated with engineered stone, there are several steps builders and homeowners should take. These include:
- Choosing a safe and sustainable alternative to engineered stone, such as natural stone, concrete, or solid surface materials.
- Ensuring that workers wear protective equipment, including masks and respirators, when working with engineered stone or other materials that contain silica dust.
- Providing adequate ventilation and dust control measures in the workplace to minimise the amount of dust in the air.
- Following safe work practices and procedures to reduce the risk of exposure to silica dust.
It’s also important for builders and homeowners to choose a reputable supplier for their construction materials. Attila's Natural Stone is one such Australian supplier that offers a wide range of natural stone options for construction projects. Our products are sourced from some of the best quarries around the world, ensuring the highest quality and durability.
In addition to offering premium products, Attila's Natural Stone is committed to sustainability and ethical sourcing. We only work with quarries that comply with environmental regulations and ethical labour practices, ensuring that our products are not only beautiful but are also responsibly sourced.
Final Thoughts on Engineered Stone
With the Australian government considering a ban on engineered stone, builders and homeowners have a responsibility to choose safe and sustainable construction materials. Attila's Natural Stone in Australia offers a wide range of natural stone options that are not only high-quality and durable but also sourced responsibly. By choosing natural stone options from Attila's Natural Stone, builders and homeowners can make a responsible choice for their construction projects.
Looking for high-quality natural stone products for your next project? Visit Attila's Natural Stone showrooms in Blackburn, Campbellfield, and Moorabbin. Our showrooms offer a wide selection of natural stone products, including granite, marble, limestone, and more. Come see our products in person and speak with our knowledgeable staff to find the perfect stone for your project. Don't wait, visit us today and transform your space with the timeless beauty of natural stone!