Are Quartz Countertops Dangerous?

White quartz kitchen countertops with cutting board and sink

Are Quartz Countertops Dangerous?

You may have heard in the news recently that quartz countertops have been linked to cases of silicosis, a dangerous and often fatal lung disease.

If you have quartz countertops now or if you’re considering them in the future, should you be concerned?

The short answer is no, quartz countertops in your house will not cause health problems for you or your family.

But you may want to consider alternatives anyway, as the production of quartz countertops can cause issues for the workers who manufacture them.

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Key Takeaways, Are quartz countertops dangerous?

  • Engineered quartz can be dangerous when it is being manufactured if proper precautions aren’t taken.
  • Quartz countertops in your home pose no health risk to you and your family.
  • If you want to avoid quartz because of the danger to workers, you have many other great options for countertops.
White Kitchen with Quartz Counters

Quartz contains a high level of silica, which is dangerous if breathed in as a powder 

Quartz is a Popular Choice for Countertops

Engineered quartz countertops are made of engineered stone which is composed of about 90% crushed mineral quartz combined with polymers, resins, and pigments. It is very hard and durable and can be manufactured to look like marble, granite, or other natural stones. Quartz countertops are easy to maintain, nonporous, and look great in just about any kitchen. While quartz is a naturally occurring stone, engineered quartz is far more common in kitchens and bathrooms.

In fact, engineered quartz has so many benefits that production and installation of quartz countertops has gone up around 600% in the last ten years, according to Dr. Jane Fazio of Olive View-UCLA Medical Center. 

Silicosis and the Manufacturing of Quartz Countertops

The concern surrounding quartz countertops has to do with its high silicon content. Quartz is 90% silicon (compare this to granite which is only 20-45% silicon). This means that when quartz is cut, shaped, or drilled into, a lot of silicon dust is released into the air. Some of this dust is very small particles–100 times smaller than grains of sand at the beach.

People who are exposed to this dust, such as workers who are making the countertops, breathe it into their lungs where it stays. This can lead to a condition called silicosis, which is painful and often necessitates a lung transplant or is fatal. Silicosis has been around for a long time, but the extra-high levels of silicon in engineered quartz make it much more dangerous to work with.

There are safety regulations in place to keep workers safe, such as ventilation, respirators, and personal protective equipment (PPE) that keep silicon particles out of people’s lungs. The state of California is taking more aggressive action and doing more research into the issues surrounding quartz manufacturing. Australia and New Zealand are moving toward banning engineered quartz entirely.

Safe for You

Fortunately for homeowners, the quartz countertops in your kitchen and bathroom pose absolutely no health hazard to you or your family. It’s only in the manufacturing process that silicon particles are released into the air when the quartz is being cut, pulverized, or drilled into. If your countertops were cut in your home, you’re still okay. One exposure does not put you in danger. “Probably zero risk to homeowners with quartz counters. Dust exposure only,” said Dr. David Center of Boston University.

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If you don’t want to use quartz because of the potential health hazards to workers, you have plenty of alternatives that will look great in your kitchen or bathroom.


One of the most popular choices for countertops, granite looks great in any style of kitchen. Granite countertops are durable and heat-resistant and they’ll look good for many years. Granite comes in a variety of colors including white, gray, black, beige, and even blue. Although it is a more expensive option, granite countertops do raise the value of your home. Granite is a porous stone, so it does require a little maintenance: sealing it every year or so to keep it from absorbing liquids and staining.


Marble is another popular countertop option that you’re sure to love. It is a gorgeous stone with veining that is unique to each piece. Marble can fit into any style and aesthetic. It comes in colors like white and cream, gray and silver, beige and brown, and even white with gold veining. It resists heat and cracking, but it can be damaged and scratched, so treat it gently and you’ll love it for years to come.


Not to be confused with engineered quartz, which is a man-made stone, quartzite is a natural stone. It resembles other natural stones like granite and marble, and it comes in a variety of mostly-light colors. It’s a versatile and on-trend option for your home. Quartzite is durable and heat-resistant, but like other natural stones, is porous and requires sealing. It’s a stone that resists scratches and is actually harder than granite.


Soapstone countertops are known for their smooth, silky feel (due to the high talc content in the naturally occurring stone), and their gentle beauty. Soapstone comes in shades of green, gray, or black with subtle veining patterns that add to their unique look. One of the most-loved features of soapstone is the patina it develops over time. While it is a non-porous stone, it does require a little care. Treating it with mineral oil once a month for the first year will help it develop its beautiful patina. Scratches can be either buffed out or left to add to its charm. Soapstone countertops are a unique and gorgeous choice.


Probably the most eco-friendly option, wood (including butcherblock) countertops never go out of style. They are long-lasting, durable, and classic, and since so many types of wood are suitable for countertops, you can find a shade and style you love.

Wood does not resist moisture well, so it will need to be oiled and sealed regularly. It is also vulnerable to stains and bacteria because of its porous surface. But with a little care and maintenance, it will add a beautiful and warm charm to your kitchen.


Concrete countertops, while notoriously hard to install, do offer a myriad of benefits. They’re heat- and scratch-resistant and are incredibly durable. They offer many ways to customize from etching to stamping to acid-staining and they can be made into any shape or size. While they are porous and heavy (requiring yearly sealing and special installation), the ability to customize them completely to your space and the unique look they bring to your space might make up for any drawbacks.

Stainless Steel

Not just for restaurant kitchens, stainless steel countertops, especially islands, are an on-trend choice that gives off modern, industrial vibes. It’s great for the person who loves to cook and doesn’t want a fussy space. Stainless steel is impervious to heat and very easy to clean. It resists stains, mold, and mildew. It gives a unique, function-meets-fashion look to your space.

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While engineered quartz countertops, thankfully, aren’t dangerous to you or your family, the production process can pose health risks to workers.

If you want to use quartz, you can check with your preferred manufacturer to ask if they follow safety measures for their employees.

Or if you’d rather, you can choose from the many other countertop options available. If you want to discuss what would be best for your home, we’re here to help.

McManus Kitchen and Bath has served Tallahassee area families since 2015 and we have the expertise to help you make your home exactly what you want it to be. Contact us to get started.

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