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Granite Countertops are Radon Hot

Granite Countertops are Radon Hot

I knew it! OK, I didn’t really know it in the sense of knowing it. But I definitely knew there was something really bad about granite and now I know what.

You might remember a previous blog I wrote about granite kitchen and bathroom countertops, the gist of which was basically that they don’t rock. My main points were that they are a completely non-renewable resource and that mining is detrimental to the Earth. But underlying this point was a feeling that perhaps this granite craze could reap some karmic retribution.

And as you might know, granite is very popular. Apparently, everyone loves it, wants it, has got to have it. I can do without it, myself, thank you very much. I am even known to rant about it on occasion. So this morning, I find this story from the New York Times in my e-mail box: What’s Lurking in Your Countertops?

Ah-ha! Apparently, according to this NYT article, some granite countertops have been found to contain high levels of uranium, which is not only radioactive but releases radon gas as it decays.

In the past 10 years, as granite has gotten more and more trendy, demand has increased tenfold and to keep up with this demand there are 10 times as many kinds of granite available. The article says that with increased sales volume and variety, there have been more reports of “hot” or potentially hazardous countertops.

So not all granite countertops are dangerous, according to radiation expert Stanley Liebert. “But I’ve seen a few that might heat up your Cheerios a little,” he adds.

I don’t know about you, but I prefer my morning cereal nice and chilly. And I prefer my countertops made of renewable resources that aren’t radioactive. Bamboo, recycled glass or aluminum tiles–it’s all good. And it’s not radioactive. Healthy, and green. That’s what it’s all about.

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Jana Ballinger

Jana Ballinger has more than 15 years of experience as a writer and copy editor for daily newspapers. She lives in a vintage house in Northern California with her husband and an orange cat.


+ add your own
6:33AM PST on Feb 9, 2012

Now you not only have to worry about radon in your basement, you have to worry about radon in your granite counter tops. While just like radon in basements, it's not found in ALL granite, who's running the "Radon in granite police force?" There's no guarantee what you'll get.

8:05AM PDT on Oct 10, 2011

Thank you

12:45AM PDT on Aug 23, 2011

Something to think about.

7:18AM PDT on Aug 20, 2011

It is called CHEMISTRY.. thereby lurks the culprit. Radon gas is not to be dusted off as "not in my kitchen, love my granite countertop.'

1:40AM PDT on Aug 17, 2011

Not very "Green"

5:48AM PDT on Jul 15, 2011

Thanks for the article.

4:50AM PDT on Jul 14, 2011


4:12PM PDT on Jun 2, 2010

I guess it is fortunate perhaps that I could not afford granite countertops. Who knew?

9:27AM PDT on Jun 2, 2010

Most people do not have any say in what materials go into their housing--assuming they have housing.

There is probably more radon in many home basements built in rocky soil than in most granite countertops. After you test for radon in your home with a simple kit you can buy at many hardware stores, the best way to seal radon out of your basement, so that you don't breathe much radon gas, is supposedly to just put a removable cover over holes in the foundation for such things as sump pumps, and make sure that the basement is well ventilated. If your basement isn't sealed and is just packed dirt, don't spend much time in there, or seal it. If the place where you live already has ultra-durable granite countertops, make sure those rooms are well ventilated.

Definitely try not to live in a basement apartment for long.

If you have enough money and freedom to build your own home to your personal specifications, then recyclable, recycled and renewable materials are great. Check to see exactly where your materials came from. Much bamboo is clearcut in Asia with underpaid labor.

One last caution: one you know how much radon is in your home, if you own the home, you have to report that amount if you sell the house, as with UFFI or mold or any other hazardous material in the house.

5:48PM PDT on Jun 1, 2010


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