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In the News: Granite Gone Bad

When reading real estate listings, most of us would associate granite countertops with luxury homes, and consider them a coveted feature. That is, unless you knew they could be emitting elevated levels of radon, a radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer. A recent New York Times article, "What's Lurking in Your Countertop?" chronicled the trials of one homeowner and doctor who found that his radon gas levels were reading 100 picocuries per liter, a far cry from 4 picocuries per liter, which the Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.) considers a health risk. Apparently, as the popularity of granite countertops has increased in the last decade, so have reports of potentially hazardous countertops. While most "health physicists and radiation experts agree that most granite countertops emit radiation and radon at extremely low levels," the risk of exposure from "exotic and striated varieties from Brazil and Namibia," has yet to be evaluated. When it comes down to it, "There is no known safe level of radon or radiation," says an E.P.A. program analyst. So, if you can choose a risk-free alternative, why wouldn't you? At the very least, it's a smart idea to have your countertops tested.

Join The Conversation
flyingroo flyingroo 8 years
One more reason to use environmentally clean countertops! :clean: Bringing granite all the way from Namibia and Brazil means just incresing unnecessarily the carbon footprint.
gigill gigill 8 years
Oh great, my mom just had granite counters installed and we recently tested for radon in the basement...the results weren't great. I hope this granite isn't contributing to the levels. I will send this link on to her.
christie christie 8 years
I prefer tile counter tops, like in my vintage-y home I live in right now. Granite seems so sterile. I know in my area of Texas, a lot of things are made of limestone not granite but it's a big state. ;)
katedavis katedavis 8 years
Wow! Thanks for posting about this- I had never heard of it before.
plus_2_kid plus_2_kid 8 years
cmd0610 - it's not overkill. It's not ALL granite. The pink granite you mention is Texas is fine. BUT certain types of granite DO have minerals that contain LOTS of uranium -- that's one of the ways to get some of the brilliant colored granites you see. There are whole neighborhoods in CA that had basements built into granite that had extremely unsafe levels of radon gas. Thousands of people in India have died because of wells drilled into high-uranium granite. I wouldn't want a radioactive source that I lean against right at my belly. The case for Corian no doubt.
cmd0610 cmd0610 8 years
haha, this seems a little overkill- i would like to mention that many people work, attend classes, go to hospitals, restaurants, shopping, hiking in, on, and around granite buildings or structures- oh also walk on granite sidewalks, or run on trails with crushed granite (in TX many of the buildings are made from pink TX granite) i think not buying a granite counter top is the least of your concerns- also considering that most ppl spend at least half of their weekday away from home, ill keep my granite counter-top :p
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