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Granite and radiation


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By Adam in Southport, NC on 9/11/2009


Radioactive Granite? I searched and did not see this mentioned, so I thought I would bring it up... Does anyone here have granite countertops, and if so, have you tested them for radon/radiation emissions? I just bought granite tops for the master bath vanities, and then heard that granite can be radioactive in certain cases. Great, I'm thinking. Did I just blow money on a sweet set of tops that I need to chuck before they irradiate me, or am I paranoid? Well, what do you guys think, and again, does anyone have any personal test results they care to share?

Thanks

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By Grant in Blacksburg, VA on 9/12/2009


Because every slab of granite is soooo different from the next, other people's test results won't mean anything for you.  the vast majority of test results should show no problem.  that wouldn't mean that your slab is safe though...  I haven't done any testing.  I have been researching this myself though, because my wife is partial to granite (I prefer quartz, or engineered stone materials like silestone). 

Almost all granite countertops release some radon and radiation into the home, because they naturally contain uranium -- usually it is a negligible amount.  Radon releases as uranium deteriorates.  There is no known "safe" level of radon, but background (unavoidable) radon exposure is "usually" so much higher than is released by countertops that the countertop contribution is considered negligible.  However, some of the exotic granites recently added to the market from places like Brazil and Namibia are testing at extremely high levels 10 to 100Xs that of the "background" levels. That would be cause for significant concern.

I know you have already bought and installed yours, but if my wife insists on some granite in our home I intend to do preliminary self testing for radon before purchasing.  If the radon self test is high, I won't buy that particular slab.  A radon test kit costs less than $30 and can be purchased at most hardware stores.  You might want to do a radon self-test on your slab.  If that test shows any cause for concern (high levels of radon would prospectively indicate high levels of deteriorating uranium which could indicate high radiation levels), then you can pay a lab between $100 and $300 to do a uranium test for conclusive results.  Find a lab at aarst.org/

I hope this helps.

Here is some news coverage of the issue:

NY Times

CBS

ABC


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By Adam in Southport, NC on 9/12/2009


Grant, thanks again for a helpful response. The good news is that even though I have already purchased the tops, they are not yet installed. We have not built the house yet, so it will be quite some time before they find their place in the bathroom. I think I will get a test kit as you mentioned and see what turns up. I'll post back my findings.

Adam

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