Marble Institute of America

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Experts and Research Agree: Granite Countertops Pose Little or no Health Risk

Largely because of recent media reports, radon emissions from granite has become a confusing and emotional issue for consumers, many of whom may now be afraid to install granite countertops in their homes or are worried about the countertops they already have. Yet, according to some leading scientific authorities on radiation, radon and risk, their concerns are unnecessary.

“A considerable amount of research has been published in peer-reviewed scientific literature and all of it comes to the same conclusion: the levels of radon emitted into the air from a granite countertop are not excessive and not showing any risk for the population in their homes,” said Dr. John McCarthy, president of Environmental Health & Engineering, a public health consulting firm in suburban Boston.

Dr. David Ropeick, author of the book “Risk,” agreed with McCarthy that recent media reports are needlessly confusing consumers about the safety of granite countertops, “To properly measure radon, one must calculate the emission rate in connection with the area of granite and the volume of air in the home,” he said. “Much like paint fumes do, radon generally will dilute into a home’s air. These concentrated emissions will generally dilute down to harmless levels. To get even close to the type of dangerous levels of radon exposure that’s been reported in news articles recently, a consumer would have to completely seal off the room and stay in that room 24/7 – for 72 years.”

Health Physics Society (HPS), a scientific and professional organization whose members specialize in occupational and environmental radiation safety and which has no connection to the granite countertop industry, took issue with the New York Times story, “What’s Lurking in Your Countertop” published July 24, 2008. According to an HPS fact sheet about the Times story:

  • The procedure used by the contractor was not appropriate (as per Environmental Protection Agency radon measurement methods) and did not provide a real idea of the amount of radon in the ambient kitchen.
  • Even if the measurement had been valid, one measurement result based on one type of granite in one particular home is not an indication of radon exposure in any other kitchen with a granite countertop.
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