Chemical variability of artificial stone powders in relation to their health effects


The occurrence of highly severe silica-related diseases among the resin- and silica-based artificial stone workers was claimed, associated to an extremely short latency. High levels of exposure and intrinsic properties of AS are thought to modulate the development of silicosis and auto-immune diseases. This study compares parent materials and processed dusts, to shed light on changes of AS occurring in the manufacturing process, through an XRF, EPR and XAS investigation. We point out the extremely wide variability of the materials, the occurrence of chemical signatures impressed by the processing techniques, and the unprecedented generation of stable radicals associated to the lysis of the Si-O chemical bond inside the resin coated respirable crystalline silica. These results suggest that the AS processing in industrial stone workshops can create respirable dusts with peculiar physical and chemical properties, to be correlated to the observed clinical evidences

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