Bunnings removed the synthetic stone from its shelves after hundreds of tradesmen who had worked there developed silicosis – a terminal illness.
The hardware giant bowed to public pressure, backed by the CMFEU, which took credit for the removal on Tuesday.
Artificial stone had been linked to silicosis due to its high silica content which artisans breathed in during the cutting process.
When silica dust becomes trapped in the lungs, it is impossible to remove and can lead to fatal cases of chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
Ben Harrison, 34, spent 10 years as a stonemason on the Gold Coast before contracting silicosis and fought to get Bunnings to ban the product, saying he was “profiting off death”.
Bunnings banned the sale of artificial stone in its stores, linked to silicosis, a terminal illness among traders who worked there.
Cells taken from the lungs of a silicosis patient – notice the speck of silica dust glowing brightly
What is silicosis?
Silicosis is an aggressive and incurable lung disease that results from the inhalation of crystalline silica dust (sand).
The disease is known to occur in workers who have been exposed to dust for hundreds of years – usually those who have had prolonged exposure to mineral dust, for example while working in mines.
When products containing crystalline silica are cut, ground, polished, or similarly worked, they release very fine dust particles into the air, usually so small that they are invisible.
Silicosis involves silica dust slowly scarring the lungs. The disease generally affects artisans
These are then inhaled and can lodge deep in the lungs, where they can cause serious damage to your lungs and your health.
Exposure to crystalline silica dust can cause chronic bronchitis and emphysema, among other lung diseases. Symptoms of silica dust exposure include shortness of breath, severe cough, chest pain and fatigue.
Silica cancer does not exist. However, the presence of silica dust in the lungs can significantly increase the risk of developing lung cancer. Lung cancer from silica dust is also more likely if the person has smoked.
Silicosis is a disease characterized by inflammation and scarring of the lungs. Silicosis is generally a progressive disease, which can lead to the development of other silica dust-related lung diseases and result in death.