Up to 10,000 people in Australia are predicted to develop lung cancer in their lifetimes from silica dust exposure, according to a new study.

The Curtin University research, commissioned by the Australian Council of Trade Unions, also found that more than half a million workers are currently exposed to the potentially toxic substance while more than 100,000 could be diagnosed with silicosis as a result of their exposure at work.

Engineered stone, used mainly for kitchen benchtops, is a particularly potent source of silica dust, which is also found in building and construction products.

Exposure to dust particles can lead to deadly lung and respiratory diseases, including silicosis.

The study relied on population data from 2016 and literature around lung cancer and silicosis cases as the basis of its modelling.

Its co-author, Curtin University epidemiologist Lin Fritschi, said banning engineered stone would prevent almost 100 lung cancers and 1000 silicosis cases.

She said the health impacts of silica dust could be reduced by various methods including mandatory wet-cutting or on-tool dust extraction and the consistent use of high-quality respiratory protection.

Victoria last year become the first state or territory in Australia to announce a licensing scheme to protect construction workers from exposure to deadly silica dust particles.

A NSW parliamentary report released in June called on the state government to ensure manufactured stone businesses have strict controls for working with the substance.

Australian Workers Union national secretary Dan Walton said the study backed the union’s warning of a “tsunami” of silicosis in coming years and decades if preventative, regulatory and compensatory measures weren’t urgently adopted.

“It’s time Safe Work Australia and all state regulators adopted similar regulations to Victoria’s to protect all Australian workers in all industries,” he said.