The Federal Government is asking the states to investigate the threat to the health of stonemasons amid a rise in cases of silicosis.

Silicosis was more common in Australia from the 1940s to 1960s among construction and demolition workers.  Since then, safer practices such as reducing workers' exposure to dust had down on diagnoses of the potentially deadly disease. 

But the Queensland government confirmed 35 stonemasons have been diagnosed with silicosis after cutting engineered stone for kitchen benchtops, some with terminal cases.  Victoria, ACT, and New South Wales also reported new cases.  This is because engineered stone produced more silica dust during cutting than does marble or granite. 

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt raise the issue at a Health Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting in Adelaide this week.  Among the ideas he wants to discuss is creating a national dust diseases register to better track new cases.

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians and the Thoracic Society for urgent national health screening of stonemasons.