Letters to the Editor: How deadly are your beautiful new stone countertops?

A man seated next to an oxygen tank a tube leading into his throat
Leobardo Segura Meza, 27, suffers from silicosis, an incurable lung disease that has been afflicting workers who cut and polish engineered stone.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: The well-being of human beings, let alone their lives, should come above material desires, especially those driven by so-called trends such as the desire for engineered stone countertops.

Explaining the alarming prevalence of a deadly lung disease among workers who cut these countertops, manufacturers point their fingers at fabricators, who in turn blame poor safety measures in the workplace. Yet National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health research has concluded that standard protocols are still not enough to prevent exposure to silica dust.

Economic consequences to stone manufacturers, fabricators and housing construction are readily cited as arguments against a ban on engineered stone. What about the serious economic and health consequences to people like Leobardo Segura Meza and his co-workers?


We have become a nation of “want,” not “need.” TV channels devoted to home building and renovation promote a product over and over, and before long it’s the new craze and everyone wants it in their homes.

Thank you for this eye-opening article, which will make many of us look beyond the surface. I didn’t, 13 years ago, when I replaced my old tile countertops with quartz.

Bhuvana Chandra, Porter Ranch


To the editor: It’s hardly a surprise that workers are dying of a totally preventable disease. Industrial lobbying pulled the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s teeth in the 1970s.

Patrick Mauer, Pasadena