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    Category: Countertops


    US Countertop Workers Falling Sick from Silica Dust – Occupational Health and Safety - December 10, 2019 by admin

    US Countertop Workers Falling Sick from Silica Dust

    More and more cases of countertop workers getting sick indicates the hazards are cutting Silestone, a material made of quartz that releases dangerous silica.

    United States physicians have identified at least 18 countertop workers with silicosis thus far, and the data shows it might be increasing. Officials worry more cases are out there, given that the countertop fabrication industry in the U.S. has around 100,000 workers.

    One case demonstrates the severity of the situation at hand. Ulbester Rodriguez is from Mexico, and he came the United States at age 14. He spoke no English, did not receive a formal education, and worked in restaurant kitchens until changing jobs and working with countertop cutting.

    Since 2000, Rodriguez has worked on cutting and polishing slabs of an artificial stone to make kitchen and bathroom countertops. He said the stuff looked a lot like natural granite, but in reality, it was made in a factory from bits of quartz bound together by a resin.

    According to NPR, this kind of engineered stone marketed as quartz is now one of the most popular options for kitchen and bathrooms in the United States.

    However, this stuff has proven to be a serious hazard, especially when its dust is inhaled. Many workers have gotten sick and even died after cutting this engineered stone and breathing its dust, say public health issues. Some groups are even calling for a ban on selling engineered quartz for countertops.

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    US Countertop Workers Falling Sick from Silica Dust - Occupational Health and Safety

    Apartments for rent in Orlando: What will $2,500 get you? – WKMG News 6 & ClickOrlando - December 10, 2019 by admin

    Curious just how far your dollar goes in Orlando?

    We've rounded up the latest places for rent via rental sites Zumper and Apartment Guide to get a sense of what to expect when it comes to locating apartment rentals in Orlando if you've got a budget of up to $2,500/month.

    Take a look at the listings, below. (Note: Prices and availability are subject to change.)

    Hoodline offers data-driven analysis of local happenings and trends across cities. Links included in this article may earn Hoodline a commission on clicks and transactions.

    Listed at $2,469/month, this 1,208-square-foot two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment is located at 1711 Jake St.

    In the unit, you can anticipate a dishwasher and hardwood flooring. The building features secured entry and garage parking. Good news for animal lovers: The property is both dog-friendly and cat-friendly.

    Walk Score indicates that the area around this address is very walkable, is quite bikeable and has a few nearby public transportation options.

    (Check out the complete listing here.)

    Next, there's this three-bedroom, two-bathroom abode located at 833 Altaloma Ave. It's listed for $2,475/month for its 1,900 square feet.

    The building boasts outdoor space. The listing also promises hardwood flooring, stainless steel appliances, high ceilings and granite countertops in the residence. Pets are not welcome. There's no leasing fee required for this rental.

    According to Walk Score's assessment, the area around this address is friendly for those on foot, is convenient for biking and has a few nearby public transportation options.

    (Take a gander at the complete listing here.)

    Here's a 1,191-square-foot two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment at 646 W. Smith St. that's going for $2,485/month.

    In the unit, you'll find in-unit laundry, a dishwasher and hardwood flooring. The building offers secured entry and garage parking. Pet owners, take heed: The property is both dog-friendly and cat-friendly. Look out for a $300 pet fee.

    According to Walk Score's assessment, the area around this address is a "walker's paradise," is convenient for biking and has a few nearby public transportation options.

    (Take a look at the full listing here.)

    Next, check out this 1,696-square-foot two-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom spot that's located at 460 E. Jackson St. It's listed for $2,495/month.

    The building offers garage parking. The residence also has hardwood flooring, a balcony, granite countertops, high ceilings and stainless steel appliances. Cats and dogs are not allowed. Future tenants needn't worry about a leasing fee.

    According to Walk Score's assessment, the area around this address is very walkable, is convenient for biking and has good transit options.

    (Check out the complete listing here.)

    Located at 5412 Florida'S Tpke North, here's a two-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom condo that's listed for $2,500/month.

    In the condo, which comes furnished, expect to see a dishwasher and hardwood flooring. The building boasts a swimming pool. Good news for pet lovers: The rental is both dog-friendly and cat-friendly. There isn't a leasing fee associated with this rental.

    According to Walk Score, the area around this address is car-dependent, is quite bikeable and has a few nearby public transportation options.

    (Take a gander at the complete listing here.)

    Working with a tight budget? Here are the cheapest rentals recently listed in Orlando.

    This story was created automatically using local real estate data from Zumper and Apartment Guide, then reviewed by an editor. Click here for more about what we're doing. Additionally, read on for five marketing tips for real estate agents to showcase local market expertise.

    Got thoughts? Go here to share your feedback.

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    Apartments for rent in Orlando: What will $2,500 get you? - WKMG News 6 & ClickOrlando

    Shawn Johnson East Is ‘Absolutely Terrified’ That She’s Going to Get Her Baby Sick – What To Expect When You’re Expecting - December 10, 2019 by admin

    Its officially cold and flu season, and not even the East family is immune to getting sick. Shawn Johnson East says shes terrified her baby daughter Drew will get sick after both she and husband Andrew developed colds.

    "We are all comingdown with colds and I'm absolutely terrified that I'm going to give it to Drew," Johnson East said in a new Instagram story video. "My hands are literally bleeding, I'm washing them so much." Johnson East also asked fans for advice on how to keep her baby daughter safe.

    Unfortunately, this is a common problem during cold and flu season.You dont want to give it to your baby and yet this is what happens in families, says Danelle Fisher, M.D., F.A.A.P., a pediatrician and vice chair of pediatrics at Providence Saint Johns Health Center.

    But, if a cold strikes your house, there are a few things you can do to try to keep your baby safe.

    The most important thing is hand washing. I encourage people to wash their hands frequently with soap and water for at least two minutes, says Patricia Garcia, M.D., a pediatrician at Connecticut Childrens.

    She also recommends sanitizing areas of your home that get a lot of traffic, like kitchen countertops or the bathroom sink. And, even though its tough, try to keep kissing your baby to a minimum if you're under the weather to avoid spreading germs, Dr. Fisher says.

    Covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze (in the crook of your arm to keep germs off your hands) can also help, says infectious disease expertAmeshA.Adalja, M.D.,senior scholarat the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. (To protect against the flu, babies who are six months or older should receive theflu vaccine.)

    If your baby was premature, it's particularly important to take preventive steps because colds can hit preemies harder, says Dr. Garcia.

    You might even consider wearing a face mask around your little one, adds Dr. Adalja, but it can be logistically hard to do you have to keep it on all the time and not touch your face underneath the mask.

    If youre breastfeeding, its important to keep on nursing your baby.You spread antibodies to the baby through your breast milk, Dr. Fisher says. Its really protective.

    Even if you follow every precaution possible, theres still a chance your baby might get sick.The viruses that cause the common cold are very contagious, and you can be contagious before you even realize you have a cold, Dr. Adalja says.

    If your baby does end up catching the cold, she should be okay.Most babies handle it well, Dr. Adalja says. They can be uncomfortable for a couple of days but not something you should worry about too much.

    Still, a babys reaction to colds can vary, Dr. Garcia says, which is why its important to talk to your pediatrician if your little one does happen to get sick. It's especially important to get checked if she seems lethargic or is having any difficulty breathing.

    In most cases, your baby will do just fine with supportive care, like using asnot sucker to get rid of nasal mucus, using a humidifier and trying to keep her head elevated as much as possible, Dr. Fisher says.

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    Shawn Johnson East Is 'Absolutely Terrified' That She's Going to Get Her Baby Sick - What To Expect When You're Expecting

    MSI Surfaces Celebrates the Opening of its Cincinnati Showroom – PR Web - December 10, 2019 by admin

    Vincent Moreau, Cincinnatis Branch Leader for MSI, said, Builders, retailers, fabricators, contractors, and interior designers, will have an immersive, customer-focused experience with the full line of MSI products."

    ORANGE, Calif. (PRWEB) December 09, 2019

    MSI, North Americas Leading Supplier of premium quartz, natural stone, porcelain, ceramic, luxury vinyl tile, and glass surfaces, launched a new showroom and distribution Center in Cincinnati with a full offering of the companys flooring, countertop, decorative mosaic, wall tile, and hardscape products.The showroom is located at 8556 Trade Center Dr. Suite 300 West Chester, OH. The brand new 58,000 square-foot space will also serve residential and commercial markets in Dayton, Cincinnati, Louisville and Lexington area.

    Vincent Moreau, Cincinnatis Branch Leader for MSI, said, Builders, retailers, fabricators, contractors, and interior designers, will have an immersive, customer-focused experience with the full line of MSI products. Access to a fully stocked inventory means they will be able to source and select the best surfaces for their projects all under one roof. Dedicated well-lit and climate controlled areas, encourage trade professionals and consumers to make the best product and design decisions.

    MSIs Cincinnatis showroom features products for a diverse customer base thats developed around lifestyles, trends, and budgets complete with a state-of-the-art indoor slab area featuring natural stone and Q Premium Natural Quartz; and bestselling products like Everlife LVT and Arterra Porcelain Pavers.

    The slab viewing area will include over 130 colors of granite, marble, and other natural stone slabs. A designated quartz gallery houses the industry-leading Q-Premium Natural Quartz collection. The lineup features over ninety colors in an array of sought-after finishes like matte, concrete, and polished.

    Due to the breadth of MSI products, the space is built as a trade resource across various business channels: residential remodeling, new home construction, multifamily, and commercial. Vignettes display bestselling products in a real-life setting so that visitors can see the latest innovations in everything from hardscaping to porcelain and ceramic tile to mosaic backsplash tile, said Mr. Moreau.

    Rup Shah, President of MSI, said "With our new showroom and distribution center, we have dramatically enhanced our ability to service our customers across Ohio. With a dedicated team of local professionals, local inventory, and a state-of-the-art showroom, we believe we can offer both the broadest selection of hard surfacing products, unparalleled customer service and the strongest distribution capabilities across the region."

    The Cincinnati showroom is open six days a week, 8:00am to 5:00pm- Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 8:00am to 6:00pm on Tuesday, and between 9:00am and 12:00pm on Saturday: walk-ins from both consumers and trade professionals are welcome.

    About MSI Surfaces Founded in 1975, MSI is the leading supplier of premium surfaces in the U.S. - including flooring, countertops, decorative mosaics, and wall tile, and hardscape products. The company offers an extensive selection of quartz, natural stone, porcelain, ceramic, luxury vinyl tile, and glass, among other materials. Headquartered in Orange, California, MSI has distribution centers across the United States and Canada and maintains over 150 million square feet of inventory, imported from over 36 different countries on six continents. For more information, visitmsisurfaces.com.

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    MSI Surfaces Celebrates the Opening of its Cincinnati Showroom - PR Web

    Cranberry Coast Home of the Week: Updated and spacious Carver home is family-friendly – Wicked Local Pembroke - December 10, 2019 by admin

    Situated in Vaughn Estates, a lovely family-friendly neighborhood in Carver, this multi-level home has been updated to offer hardwood floors, granite countertops and custom tiled showers. In addition to a nice array of interior spaces, an in-ground pool in the backyard provides family fun during the hot summer months.

    At a Glance

    Address: 37 Bow St., Carver

    Company: RE/MAX Spectrum

    Website: kimouellette.realtor

    Listing agent: Kim Ouellette

    Email: kouellette@remaxspectrum.com

    Telephone: 508-728-1700

    Price: $454,000

    Style: Multi-level

    Rooms: Eight

    Bedrooms: Four

    Bathrooms: Three full

    Living space: 2,387 square feet

    Lot size: .96 acres

    Garage: Two-car, attached

    Highlights: Situated in Vaughn Estates, a peaceful family-friendly neighborhood in Carver, this four-bedroom, three-bathroom home has been updated to offer hardwood floors, granite countertops and custom tiled showers. In addition to a nice array of interior spaces, an in-ground pool in the backyard provides family fun during the hot summer months. Multi-level construction, offering six different levels separated by half-flights of stairs, results in both large gathering spaces and private areas that make the home perfect for family living. A huge front-to-back family room offers year-round attraction with a brick wood-burning fireplace that will beckon in the cooler months and a slider out to the fenced backyard and in-ground pool that will entice family members during the summer. Up one level, a spacious dining room with gleaming hardwood oak flooring opens to a cathedral-ceilinged den, which, in turn, connects to a spacious kitchen with granite counters and a slider that opens to a deck overlooking the backyard. Three bedrooms and a full bath are located on an upper level, and the master suite, with a sitting room and updated bathroom, are situated up one level from there, offering a welcome measure of privacy. The uppermost level contains two spacious closets as well as a small room with a single window at the gable end of the home that would be perfect for a home office, a hobby room or a reading retreat.

    Taxes: $6,409

    For more information about this home, and additional real estate news including this weekends open houses, read the Cranberry Coast Homes section in this weeks newspaper.

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    Cranberry Coast Home of the Week: Updated and spacious Carver home is family-friendly - Wicked Local Pembroke

    Global Quartz Kitchen Countertops Market Analysis by Size, Share, Key Drivers, Growth Opportunities and Global Trends 2025 – Global Industry News… - December 10, 2019 by admin

    The Quartz Kitchen Countertops Market report gives a purposeful depiction of the area by the practice for research, amalgamation, and review of data taken from various sources. The market analysts have displayed the different sidelines of the area with a point on recognizing the top players (Cosentino Group, Caesarstone, Hanwha L&C, Compac, Vicostone, Dupont, LG Hausys, Cambria, Santa Margherita, Quartz Master, SEIEFFE, Quarella, Samsung Radianz, Technistone, QuartzForm, CR Lawrence, Quarella, Stone Italiana, Granitifiandre, Equs, Diresco, Belenco, QuantumQuartz, Pental, Sage Surfaces (Allen+Roth), Zhongxun, Sinostone, Bitto(Dongguan), OVERLAND, UVIISTONE) of the industry. The Quartz Kitchen Countertops market report correspondingly joins a predefined business market from a SWOT investigation of the real players. Thus, the data summarized out is, no matter how you look at it is, reliable and the result of expansive research.

    This report mulls over Quartz Kitchen Countertops showcase on the classification, for instance, application, concords, innovations, income, improvement rate, import, and others (Residential, Commercial) in the estimated time from 20192025 on a global stage. In like manner, the overall Quartz Kitchen Countertops market report reveals knowledge identified with the type of product, its applications, customers, prime players, and various components agreeing with the account. This first data demonstrates critical contenders and their definite picture of the general Quartz Kitchen Countertops market. Other than this, the report further demonstrates expected market power, challenges, and prospects in the Quartz Kitchen Countertops market.

    Request for Sample Report @www.intenseresearch.com/market-analysis/global-quartz-kitchen-countertops-market-2018-by-manufacturers.html#request-sample

    Types Segment:Press Molding, Casting Molding

    Key Market Features:

    The scope of the report extends from market eventualities to a comparative rating between major players, price, and profit of the required market regions. This makes available the holistic view on competitive analysis of the market. Some of the top players involved in the market are profiled completely in a systematic manner. In the end, the report concludes the new project, key development areas, business overview, product/services specification, SWOT analysis, investment feasibility analysis, return analysis and development trends. The study also presents a round-up of vulnerabilities in which companies operating in the market and must be avoided in order to enjoy sustainable growth through the course of the forecast period.

    The study provides a comprehensive analysis of the key market factors and their latest trends, along with relevant market segments and sub-segments. Market size is calculable in terms of revenue (USD Million) production volume during the forecast period.

    Global Quartz Kitchen Countertops Market report provides a valuable source of insightful data for business strategists. It provides the industry overview with growth analysis and historical & futuristic cost, revenue, demand and supply data (as applicable). The research analysts provide an elaborate description of the value chain and its distributor analysis. The report also looks at the influential factors that are affecting the development of the Global Automotive Bumpers Market. This statistical report also offers various internal and external driving as well as restraining factors for this research report.

    Get Exclusive Buying report:www.intenseresearch.com/market-analysis/global-quartz-kitchen-countertops-market-2018-by-manufacturers.html#inquiry-for-buying

    Essential application areas of Quartz Kitchen Countertops are also measured on the basis of their performance. Market forecasts along with the statistical nuances presented in the report render an insightful view of the Quartz Kitchen Countertops market. The market study on report studies present as well as coming aspects of the Quartz Kitchen Countertops Market mainly based upon factors on which the companies contribute to the market evolution, key trends, and segmentation analysis.

    The scope of the report extends from market eventualities to a comparative rating between major players, price, and profit of the required market regions. This makes available the holistic view on competitive analysis of the market. Some of the top players involved in the market are profiled completely in a systematic manner.

    Thanks for reading this article; you can also get individual chapter wise section or region wise report versions like North America, Europe or Asia.

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    Youre almost out of time to save $20 on Amazons newest Echo, which sounds shockingly good – BGR - December 10, 2019 by admin

    Everyone thinks of Echo speakers as delivery mechanisms for Alexa, and theres no question that Alexa is the best thing about them. But if you havent actually listened to streaming music lately on an Echo speaker, its definitely time to revisit it and now is the perfect time because its on sale for Green Monday. I was blown away the first time I head Amazons All-new Echo, in fact, and you can snag one right now for $79.99 if you hurry.

    Heres the important info from the product page:

    Follow @BGRDeals on Twitter to keep up with the latest and greatest deals we find around the web. Prices subject to change without notice and any coupons mentioned above may be available in limited supply. BGR may receive a commission on orders placed through this article.

    Image Source: Amazon

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    How New Cases Of Lung Damage Emerged In The US Countertop Industry : Shots – Health News – NPR - November 25, 2019 by admin

    Samples of Silestone, a countertop material made of quartz. Cutting the material releases dangerous silica dust that can damage people's lungs if the exposure to the dust is not properly controlled. Catie Dull/NPR hide caption

    Samples of Silestone, a countertop material made of quartz. Cutting the material releases dangerous silica dust that can damage people's lungs if the exposure to the dust is not properly controlled.

    Ublester Rodriguez could not have anticipated that his life would be profoundly changed by kitchen and bathroom countertops.

    He says that he grew up poor, in a small Mexican town, and came to the United States when he was 14. He spoke no English, but he immediately got a job.

    "In the beginning I was working in a Chinese restaurant, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. It was all day, so I never had time to go to school," he recalls. "I was a dishwasher."

    He labored in restaurant kitchens for about eight years. But he wanted Sundays off to go to church and play soccer. So when his brother-in-law offered to help him get a new job, he jumped at the chance.

    That's how he ended up in a workshop that cuts and polishes slabs of an artificial stone to make kitchen and bathroom countertops.

    "It was something totally different for me," says Rodriguez.

    Back then, in 2000, the material he was cutting was also something totally different for the American countertop industry. The stuff looked a lot like natural granite. In reality, it was made in a factory, from bits of quartz bound together by a resin.

    This kind of engineered stone, often marketed as simply "quartz," is now one of the most popular options for kitchen and bathrooms.

    Health concerns emerge

    The trouble is, workers have gotten sick, and even died, after cutting this engineered stone and breathing in its dangerous dust, public health officials say.

    Overseas, some are even calling for a ban on selling engineered quartz for countertops.

    Rodriguez, 42, is the first person known to have fallen ill in the U.S. His lungs are so damaged that he is on oxygen about six hours a day. Doctors expect that he will need a lung transplant.

    And so far, physicians have identified at least 18 more countertop workers with silicosis in this country. They worry that more cases are out there, and more people are at risk, given that the countertop fabrication industry in the U.S. has around 100,000 workers.

    "In the beginning I was angry, but I was angry with me," says Rodriguez, who sued his employer for allegedly causing his illness.

    "When I moved from the restaurant to this company, I was getting more money. Because of that change, I ruined my life," he says. "Then I just realized that it wasn't just me. It was the whole company that they don't protect their employees."

    The shop where Rodriguez worked is run by Cosentino, a major player in the countertop industry.

    "We are extremely committed to safety and continuously strive to improve our operations," a company spokesperson told NPR. "We hope your article raises awareness in the industry to follow a proper safety culture."

    Silestone comes to America

    Cosentino, headquartered in Spain, started selling engineered quartz in Europe in 1990, under the brand name Silestone. In 1997, the company formed a subsidiary called Cosentino North America, to bring Silestone to a new market.

    The same year that Rodriguez started working with Silestone, the material made its debut at a trade show in Chicago, according to a newspaper account that described "flamenco and tap dancers stomping out rhythms on the quartz surface which was utterly unaffected."

    Silestone's durability and resistance to stains thrilled kitchen designers. It was featured in Time and Good Housekeeping.

    The business grew rapidly. As Cosentino executive Brandon Calvo explained in a promotional video, "When we were awarded the national account for Home Depot, I don't think we knew what we were in for. I don't think we knew how big it was."

    In 2005, Cosentino ran an advertisement during the Super Bowl, featuring basketball star Dennis Rodman soaking in a bubble bath surrounded by bathroom countertops made of Silestone.

    Cosentino wasn't the only company offering the new miracle countertop. Competitors were selling similar materials under such brand names as Caesarstone, Zodiaq and Cambria. Over time, more and more companies started producing slabs of engineered quartz.

    Thousands of workers such as Rodriguez toiled in countertop fabrication shops across the country, cutting that raw material into just the right size to fit in customers' kitchens.

    In addition to importing slabs of Silestone from Spain and selling them to countertop-making shops, Cosentino also operated its own network of shops, which came to be called Stone Systems. With a dozen locations, Stone Systems bills itself as "the largest network of commonly owned stone fabrication shops" in North America.

    Rodriguez worked at Stone Systems of Houston, previously known as Silestone of Houston.

    "From 2000 to 2004, we were a small, really small company," says Rodriguez, who cut and polished countertops in a room with about a dozen other workers.

    The dangers of dry cutting

    During those early days, according to pretrial depositions from Rodriguez and company executives, cutting was done dry. That means no spray of water on the cutting blades to keep dust from flying into the air.

    The company later changed this practice. But for years, Rodriguez did a variety of jobs to process the slabs, surrounded by dust from his own cutting and that of his co-workers.

    "We see dust everywhere. Even on the floor, in our hair, in all our bodies, I mean everywhere," recalls Rodriguez.

    Dust from cut stone is potentially dangerous if it contains the mineral silica, which can cause a lung disease called silicosis. The lungs become inflamed and develop scars. There's no cure, and the disease is progressive. People with silicosis slowly suffocate.

    That's been known for a long time; silicosis is one of the oldest known occupational hazards. In the 1930s, the Department of Labor even made a workplace safety film called Stop Silicosis, which emphasized that silicosis could be prevented by controlling dust with water sprays and vacuum systems.

    Rodriguez, who grew up on a farm and worked in restaurant kitchens, didn't know any of that. He also didn't know that because Silestone is made mostly of quartz, it contains a lot of silica. It can be as much as 90% crystalline silica about twice as much as natural granite.

    According to Rodriguez, his bosses didn't explain what he was cutting, or the danger.

    "The first time I heard 'silica' was when my doctor told me that I had it," he testified, explaining that safety training available at work had focused on how to avoid injuries like being cut, rather than anything related to lung disease.

    "They don't tell us anything about the product," he told NPR. "Nothing."

    A lack of testing

    What's more, internal company documents produced during the lawsuit show that in 2002, a couple of years after Rodriguez started working there, a safety consultant noted that the facility hadn't been evaluated for employee exposures to silica and recommended doing an assessment. But a firm hired to help the company run a safety program didn't do any testing of the dust in the air, and a document refers to concerns about the cost of lab tests.

    "Neither Cosentino nor Stone Systems can make a public statement regarding any legal proceeding or the documents associated therein. So far, any document that has been part of a legal proceeding has been effectively addressed and resolved in that proceeding," a company spokesperson told NPR. The lawsuit was settled confidentially in 2016, with no admission of liability.

    Rodriguez worked at the Houston shop for years. During that time, he got married and started a family. He stopped playing soccer, though, because he found it too exhausting.

    "I was just thinking, 'Oh, maybe I'm getting older, that's why I'm getting tired so easily,' " he says.

    Then he developed a persistent cough. In 2010, his wife insisted that he go to the doctor, who took X-rays.

    "And he said, 'Look, uh, your lungs are looking really, really bad. My report came back that you have silicosis,' " remembers Rodriguez. "I had never heard that word before. Never."

    Rodriguez had always been healthy he wasn't a smoker and had been athletic. And now, at just 33 years old, he learned that the silicosis would get worse, and could kill him.

    A colored X-ray shows the lungs of a patient with silicosis, which is caused by inhaling silica dust particles. Scarred tissue and inflammation are represented by orange. SPL/Science Source hide caption

    A colored X-ray shows the lungs of a patient with silicosis, which is caused by inhaling silica dust particles. Scarred tissue and inflammation are represented by orange.

    "I remember that I went to the church. And I told God, 'Look, I don't know if I can handle it myself.' I started crying," says Rodriguez. "For me, it was something devastating."

    He told his bosses about his diagnosis. They transferred him to another position, an office job, since he had to be away from the silica.

    Warning signs

    Around that time, managers put up a sign in the Houston fabrication shop that warned workers of the danger of silica, according to testimony in the lawsuit brought by Rodriguez, who was represented by Dallas-based attorney Chris Panatier.

    Yet in 2009, a year earlier, the company had tested the workplace air for the first time, according to a document produced by the company during the lawsuit. Those tests revealed silica exposure levels above the legal limit in three of seven workers who wore monitoring devices to assess the air quality around them.

    In addition, "results exceeded the 50% advisory action level for three additional measured employees," according to the document, which noted that results at or above this level "indicate the statistical potential for overexposure on other days, and the need for corrective action."

    In 2011, another round of air tests found basically the same result: three of seven monitored workers above the permissible exposure limit, according to information revealed in the depositions.

    This was so even though all of the processes, the cutting and grinding, were using water to keep down the dust.

    NPR requested an interview with Roberto Contreras, the first CEO of Cosentino North America, to ask about the early days of the engineered stone industry in the U.S., the Rodriguez silicosis case, and how the industry's view of silica changed over time.

    "I really have no comments on this topic," replied Contreras in a written message. "I can only tell you I am not aware of any early case of Silicosis in a Stone Systems shop. Also, as far as I know, all Stone System shops work with equipment that cuts with water, they do not dry grind or cut anything; totally minimizing Silicosis."

    In 2015, Contreras gave a deposition in Rodriguez's lawsuit. He said then, under oath, that he did not recall when he learned that silica can cause lung damage and other health impacts.

    "I cannot tell you the exact time, but it was sometime in the mid 2000s," Contreras testified. He noted that he had personally worked in a fabrication shop without getting sick. "Later we went into wet grinding. And so I didn't I didn't think there was an issue."

    Travis Dupre, the current vice president of sales for Stone Systems, testified in a deposition that he learned of the dangers of silica through word of mouth in the industry, around late 2003 or early 2004, when the Houston shop had moved to a new facility and instituted wet processes.

    "We felt like we were doing what was reasonable. We had switched everything to wet grinding. We had moved into a facility with better ventilation. We'd enforced no dry cutting. We felt like we were taking the reasonable steps," Dupre testified.

    Referring to the sign put up in 2010 with a warning about silica, Dupre testified, "we should have put the sign up earlier."

    Relying on respirators

    Rodriguez testified that early on, workers had been given simple face masks to ward off dust, but sometimes these weren't available, so workers reused old ones or even would use something like "a piece of towel."

    Then they were given respirators. In 2002, a safety consultant started a formal respirator program, and Rodriguez was fit-tested for a respirator with replaceable filters that seals to the face and provides more protection, according to documents and testimony.

    But government regulations say that relying on respirators should only be used as a last resort, if silica dust in the environment can't be adequately controlled with other measures such as vacuums or water.

    That's because it is hard to properly and reliably wear a respirator day after day for years while doing manual labor. It's much more protective, safety experts say, to remove silica from the surrounding environment.

    The Houston shop wasn't the only one in Cosentino's Stone Systems network that had issues with silica. Its countertop-cutting facilities in other states were being cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for exposing workers to this hazard.

    In March 2013, for example, OSHA received a complaint about conditions at Stone Systems of New England, in Rhode Island. The inspector's report noted that wet grinding and cutting techniques were used, but "there has been no testing done to validate effectiveness of the wet methods to control the dust."

    This video, obtained through a public records request, shows the inspection of a Stone Systems shop in Colorado in 2011. Documents show elevated levels of silica were found. The company made changes, like improved housekeeping. A follow-up inspection in 2013 showed the air quality had improved and was within acceptable limits.

    Don't see the video above? Click here

    OSHA did that testing, which showed that one worker there was exposed to airborne silica levels approximately 4.6 times the permissible limit. Another worker was exposed to 17.5 times the limit. At that higher level of exposure, the respirator being worn wouldn't offer enough protection, according to OSHA documents describing the violation.

    What's more, not all workers had been properly fit-tested for respirators, and some wearing respirators had facial hair, which interferes with the seal to the face, according to the citation.

    When asked about these OSHA citations in Rhode Island, as well as other OSHA citations from 2011 related to silica exposure in its shops in Minnesota and Colorado, a spokesperson for Cosentino replied that "all OSHA citations mentioned in your questions were minor citations and the penalties were significantly reduced. In addition, all of them were fully abated and resolved."

    In 2014, Rodriguez and his illness came to the attention of occupational health specialists who had been on the lookout for cases in this industry.

    Overseas cases

    They had just written a blog post about engineered quartz workers coming down with silicosis overseas in Israel and Spain, where this material was first made and sold for years before it came to the U.S.

    "Healthcare providers who suspect that their patients' health problems may be caused by working with quartz-containing materials are encouraged to report their concern to their state health department," they urged.

    Two months later, the Texas Department of State Health Services learned about Rodriguez. Officials contacted the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and asked it to evaluate the hazards in the shop where he had worked.

    Researchers visited in April 2015, saying that they were doing so because "to our knowledge, this was the first reported case in North America of silicosis from occupational exposure to quartz surfacing materials" and that state officials had "asked us to evaluate employees' exposures to airborne crystalline silica at the facility where the person with silicosis worked," according to their report.

    "Although the company used wet methods to control dust, we found overexposures to respirable crystalline silica," the report states. "Exposures were highest for employees using pneumatic wet grinders with diamond cup wheels. We recommended the company use engineering controls to decrease exposures."

    In confidential interviews with NIOSH, some employees said they cleaned or swept up dust without using wet methods a bad idea, as it can send invisible silica swirling up into the air.

    Also, some workers "reported not having received training on the hazards of crystalline silica related to their work at the facility," according to the NIOSH report.

    Cosentino agreed to let NIOSH researchers run additional tests in the Houston shop and in Stone Systems of Minnesota, to study how silica can be controlled while cutting stone and engineered quartz countertops.

    "By doing so, Stone Systems has been leading the trial and implementation of safety measures to benefit all industry participants for the benefit of all employees that work in this business," the company told NPR in a written statement.

    Chaolong Qi, a NIOSH researcher, says he has found that cutting or grinding engineered stone made of quartz releases higher amounts of silica than natural stone.

    Even though the hand-held grinders used by workers delivered a spray of dust-dampening water, says Qi, "sometimes the water might not be wetting the surface effectively. So they get a little bit of dust coming out, always."

    This grinder uses water, but dust plumes are still noticeable. Researchers have found ways to add more water while grinding that, in studies, further reduce silica dust to acceptable levels.

    Don't see the video above? Click here

    Those little puffs of dust likely weren't a problem when countertop fabricators were working exclusively with natural stone, he says, "because natural stone has much less silica content. Now, they work more and more with engineered stone, which has much higher silica content, up to like 90% plus. That becomes an issue."

    "Traditionally they felt that the wet operation is sufficient, but it looks like it's not," says Qi. He has been evaluating additional engineering controls like having certain processes done in an isolated booth equipped with special air-handling equipment.

    "There will be ways to reduce exposure below the OSHA standard," he says. "I can definitely say it's a solvable problem."

    Cosentino executives allowed an NPR reporter to tour one of its facilities, Stone Systems of New Jersey.

    Next to workers finishing countertops with water-fed, hand-held tools, there were dust removal systems devices that suck dust toward curtains of flowing water. Dupre said they were installed a couple of years ago.

    Reduced silica levels

    Posted on the wall of the employee break room were the results of silica testing done last December. Workers' names were listed next to their exposure level. All of the silica levels were low less than half of what the government allows.

    Dupre said results like this are the goal of Stone Systems for every location around the country. And that the company complies with OSHA regulations.

    Read the original:
    How New Cases Of Lung Damage Emerged In The US Countertop Industry : Shots - Health News - NPR

    Mills at Lehigh latest luxury apartments to hit Bethlehem. Check them out. (PHOTOS) – lehighvalleylive.com - November 25, 2019 by admin

    Courtesy Mills at Lehigh | Don Pearse

    An apartment complex by the Westgate Mall got a major upgrade with the addition of 44 luxury apartments and a clubhouse filled with amenities.

    The Mills at Lehigh, 2080 Westgate Dr. in West Bethlehem, were built on excess land owned by Lehigh Plaza Apartments. The project received preliminary and final approval from the Bethlehem Planning Commission in April 2017. Now, the mix of one-and-two bedroom apartments are available to rent with prices starting at $1,275 a month.

    All of the apartments include 9-foot ceilings, private balconies, LED lighting, fine wood grain cabinetry and quartz countertops. Some of the one bedroom units come with a den. Amenities include a fitness center, resident lounge, outdoor BBQ kitchen area and entertaining space.

    Bethlehem has experienced incredible growth into a hotspot for industry and culture, Nick Hollenbeck, director of sales and marketing for Sterling Properties, said in a news release. The Lehigh Valley has become a hub of dining, nightlife, entertainment and arts. The area has also established itself as a regional leader in the business and health care sectors. The evolution of Bethlehem has made it into one of northeast Pennsylvanias most desired live/work/play destinations. The Mills at Lehigh will go a long way towards filling the mounting demand for luxury homes in a city that registered high population growth.

    The project was developed by Sterling Properties and Kriegman and Smith. Leasing is underway and developers are offering new residents one month free rent.

    Courtesy Mills at Lehigh | Don Pearse

    Courtesy Mills at Lehigh | Don Pearse

    Courtesy Mills at Lehigh | Don Pearse

    Courtesy Mills at Lehigh | Don Pearse

    Courtesy Mills at Lehigh | Don Pearse

    Courtesy Mills at Lehigh | Don Pearse

    Courtesy Mills at Lehigh | Don Pearse

    Courtesy Mills at Lehigh | Don Pearse

    Courtesy Mills at Lehigh | Don Pearse

    Sara K. Satullo may be reached at ssatullo@lehighvalleylive.com. Follow her on Twitter @sarasatullo and Facebook. Find lehighvalleylive.com on Facebook.

    See the rest here:
    Mills at Lehigh latest luxury apartments to hit Bethlehem. Check them out. (PHOTOS) - lehighvalleylive.com

    Baby Suffers Fractured Skull After ‘Frustrated’ Father Slams Girl’s Head Against Countertop While Feeding Her – International Business Times - November 25, 2019 by admin

    A man was sentenced to 26 months in prison Wednesday for slamming his baby daughter's headon a countertop, resulting in a fractured skull.

    A court in the U.K. heard that31-year-old Lucy Bearman woke up one day to her babys unusual cries and noticed a lump on her head. She then noticed her husband, 29-year-old Robin Bearman, crying. When confronted, Robin said he accidentally caught her head with a cupboard door. The baby was rushed to a nearby hospital and an examination revealed that she had a fractured skull. This happened in 2017. The age of the baby was not known.

    Recalling the incident, Lucy said, My thoughts were that it was not a massively obvious lump. I would have driven her to hospital, my initial feeling was that calling 999 was a massive overreaction to what was in front of me. Initially I had a sense of confusion about what had happened. He acted it out. For months he acted it out, over and over again every time he was asked what had happened.

    A few months later, Robin admitted to slamming her to a countertop out of frustration while feeding her and soon after the pair split. The man was sentenced to imprisonment Wednesday and banned from seeing Lucy and her children for the next five years. The exact date of the incident was not known.

    Meanwhile, speaking after the hearing, Lucy said, I wanted nothing more for my girls than a safe and loving father. The day it happened things had never been better. We were a happy family. I still don't know why it happened and why he told me those lies. He destroyed everything.

    I think the judge was really fair. I always said whatever happens with the sentence will be the right thing, she added.

    Representational image of a baby. Photo: Creative Commons

    More here:
    Baby Suffers Fractured Skull After 'Frustrated' Father Slams Girl's Head Against Countertop While Feeding Her - International Business Times

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