Are Granite Countertops Safe?

You may have read about granite countertop safety in the media. In this blog post we’ll break down the safety claims and most accurate reports we’ve found.

What is radon?

Radon is a colorless, odorless radioactive gas that comes from the natural breakdown of stone and rock. Radon is also found in many other materials in your home.

Is radon a possibility with granite?

Like all types of stone, granite may contain decaying radioactive components like thorium, radium, and uranium. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that some stone can contain a greater amount of these components than others. These radioactive components are solids, but, after some time, they may decay into radon.

What are the levels of radon in granite countertops, is it harmful?

Claims that granite countertops may emit dangerous levels of radon and radiation have been raised periodically by competing countertop material manufacturers and distributors. The Marble Institute of America has said such claims are “ludicrous” because although granite is known to contain uranium and other radioactive materials like thorium and potassium, the amounts in countertops are not enough to pose a health threat. As happens in most cases, if your granite countertop surface emits a small amount of radon, it will generally be insignificant when diluted with the quantity of air in your entire home.

So if the risk from granite is ‘not enough to pose a health threat.’ How common is radon in U.S. homes?

In fact, radon is emitted by many of the products in your home at relatively low levels. This includes all concrete products, clay bricks, most non-plastic plates and dishes, coal and the flyash produced in coal-fired power plants, natural gas (contains radon), phosphate fertilizers used in your garden (ALL contain potassium and small amounts of uranium and thorium), and the vegetables grown using those fertilizers. All glass made using silica (even eye glasses, wine glasses, mirrors, windows, etc.), and granite too.

When should I take action on the radon in my home?

If you suspect radon gas in your home it’s important to understand when to take action. Radon gas levels in the home exceeding 4 picocuries per liter of air (a measure of radioactive emission) the E.P.A. recommends taking action. This level of radon poses about the same risk for cancer as smoking half a pack of cigarettes per day. If your radon levels are between 2 -4 picocuries per liter of air the EPA recommends reducing your radon levels.

Sources:
CDC Radon Studies
Oregon State Chemistry – Latest News?