Not My Granite Countertops!

August 20, 2008 by  
Filed under CANCER

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I don’t actually have granite countertops. But I want them. Badly.

And while I have precious little time for television, when I do indulge, HGTV is way high on the top of my list. I practically drool watching the crews go out and pick the perfect slab of granite for a home make-over.

This is why I have purposely turned a deaf ear to the recent stream of articles on the possible correlation between my decorating dreams and cancer.

The controversy became heated when the New York Times featured an article, What’s Lurking In Your Countertop, on July 24, 2008. The article featured a story about a home where radon was detected in the granite countertops in levels ten times higher than anywhere else in the home.

What is radon?

Radon is a radioactive, colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas that is formed as natural deposits of uranium in the earth’s crust decay. In granite, radon is released due to uranium decay in natural stone. As radon decay products are inhaled, they can alter the cells in the lungs. Approximately 20,000 people die of radon related lung cancer each year. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer.

Radon is routinely tested in many areas of the country when homes are sold and purchased. Here in Colorado it is not unusual to have high radon levels reported. Radon is then mitigated by venting and fan systems which cost around a thousand dollars and upwards depending on the square footage of your home. Basically they bring in and circulate fresh air.

Here is a link to the EPA radon map showing areas of high radon in the United States.

So what’s the reality when it comes to granite countertops?

From the EPA:

While radon levels attributable to granite are not typically high, there are simply too many variables to generalize about the potential health risks inside a particular home that has granite counter tops. It is prudent to limit your family’s exposure to radon whenever possible. EPA recommends that indoor air have a radon level as far below 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) of air as possible. There are easy ways to test the air in your home for radon, and high radon levels can be reduced with proven and inexpensive technology. EPA believes the most significant source of radon risk is soil gas. Regardless of source, all homes should be tested for radon.

EPA will continue to monitor and analyze the evolving research on this issue and will update its recommendations as appropriate.”

Radon testing kits are simple to do and in expensive to purchase. Check out the EPA site for testing experts in your state.

In the meantime, I’m looking into composite countertops!

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7 Responses to “Not My Granite Countertops!”
  1. Thanks for the great article!

  2. Al Gerhart says:

    There is a reason why they didn’t publish, it won’t pass.

  3. Al Gerhart says:

    Here is what one expert, one of the AARST committee members that is looking into this controversy said about the MIA study (E, H, & E study). This is on a Radon professional forum, no access to visitors or I’d link to it.


    “MIA publically released an Executive Summary of a report from their technical consultants in mid-November. Sometime later that month I received a copy of the full report but I do not think that report was widely circulated in the radon community. (Perhaps Mr. Lxxxxx would share it with the list. ) After extensive critical examination, I have recently submitted an extensive set of questions to the MIA and their consultants about the contents of that final report to try to clarify their methods and results.

    In mid-December, I received electronic copies of DRAFT proposals of pre-market and home screening protocols from MIA’s consultants. These documents came with the admonition that I was to keep them confidential even from the members of my committee. These documents were incomplete and did not contain scientific data that would be necessary to judge the effectiveness of the screening methods proposed. I have not shared these documents with anyone nor started a critical review of them in hopes that the final proposals would be more substantial.

    Without going into lengthy technical detail at this point I would say that it is premature to expect even a tacit approval of the MIA’s proposed methodology or standards for radon-related risk assessment of indoor uses of decorative stone like granite.”

    End quote:

    The scientific community is pretty much laughing at the MIA report. It is what it is, a hired report that makes the sponsor look good. As you can see from the comments, it is lacking in basic information to allow anyone to judge it much less pass a peer review.

    Pure chicanery….

  4. Jose Ramirez says:

    Before you continue to dilute your materials knowledge base credibility…

    Go to Marble Institute of America for a detailed comprehensive non biased testing results report page on granite radon.

    Jose Ramirez
    Radtke Tile and Marble
    3000 Conestoga Drive
    Carson City, NV. 89706

  5. Al Gerhart says:

    Best keep looking for info on this topic rather than believe the stone industry. Way too much money at risk, plus the have sucessfully covered this up for the past 14 years. They can’t tell the truth, so they keep digging the hole deeper.
    If this was a non issue, neither the CRCPD (state radiation officials) nor AARST (radon scientists) would have committees seting maximum allowable radiation/radon levels for stones and measurement protocols. ANSI and ASME are also looking into the controversy for their organizations.
    On the radon issue, we have a full scale radon test going currently, over 10 pCi/L so far from only 18square feet of granite in a 96 square foot room. That is like smoking 1 1/2 packs a day,

    We have a lot of info on the topics available.

  6. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Myra!

  7. Myra says:

    The good news is, we live in a low-radon state. The bad news is, we’ve also been considering granite countertops. Oh, well, at least we have options. Thanks for staying on top of all this info, Tina!

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