advertisement

Q & A Library


Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Q
Are Granite Countertops Radioactive?

I have a friend who is having her beautiful, brand-new granite countertops tested for radon. She says if there's any there, she'll have them ripped out. This sounds nuts to me. What's the story?

A
Answer (Published 9/19/2008)

The story here appears to be that some granite countertops have been found to emit high levels of radon, a strongly carcinogenic natural radioactive element. Radon is an odorless, colorless gas produced by the breakdown of uranium that seeps out of the earth, more commonly in some places on the planet than others. It sometimes enters basements through concrete cracks and becomes trapped there, concentrated in the air that we breathe.

Related Weil Products
The Weil Vitamin Advisor for Your Body - Foods, herbs and drugs can all interact, sometimes in unexpected ways. The Weil Vitamin Advisor takes known interactions into account when developing recommendations, to help safeguard against adverse effects. Get your free, personalized Weil Vitamin Advisor recommendation today. Start now!

Some granite and other natural stones contains trace amounts of uranium. If it emits radon, it typically does so at very low levels. However, in some instances, tests have found that granite countertops give off potentially dangerous levels of radiation. The New York Times reported in July 2008 that the increased popularity of granite countertops over the past decade has resulted in an expansion of the kinds of granite available and that reports of "hot" countertops seem to come from "the more exotic and striated varieties from Brazil and Namibia."

However, allegations that granite countertops are radioactive and can emit radon gas are not new. They have been raised periodically, mostly by manufacturers and distributors of competing countertop materials as well as the manufacturers of radon detection devices. But the extent and significance of the problem is unknown. The Marble Institute of America (MIA) sponsored a study of 13 granite samples said to be representative of 95 percent of the countertops on the market. Conducted by a geologist from the University of Akron, the study showed that 10 of the 13 samples tested emit only insignificant amounts of radon; of the other three, one added only about seven percent of the amount of radon the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency deems "actionable" (in other words, the levels you should do something about, by installing venting systems for example). The other two granites tested added only one percent of the EPA action level.

On the other hand, according to the Times, preliminary results of another study at Rice University suggest that all of the 55 samples tested emit radiation at higher-than-background levels, some at 100 times background levels.

If you're interested in exotic granite, or worried about your existing countertops, testing for both radon and radiation makes sense. And note that the EPA advises that all homes be tested for radon - regardless of countertop material. If significant levels are found, you've got to do something about it to protect your family's health. For EPA information on radon, go to http://www.epa.gov/radon/pubs/citguide.html. To see the MIA study on granite, go to http://www.marble-institute.com/industryresources/radontesting_u-akron2008.pdf (pdf, Adobe Acrobat Reader required)

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle on DrWeil.com (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Follow Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet and save 30%. Start your 14-day free trial now!

Stay Connected with Dr. Weil
Promote the health of your body, mind and spirit - sign up for Dr. Weil's FREE newsletters today!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe Wellness Guide
Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food Pyramid
Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

 
Copyright © 2016 Weil Lifestyle
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here

  

Q & A Library



Q
Are Granite Countertops Radioactive?

I have a friend who is having her beautiful, brand-new granite countertops tested for radon. She says if there's any there, she'll have them ripped out. This sounds nuts to me. What's the story?

A
Answer (Published 9/19/2008)

The story here appears to be that some granite countertops have been found to emit high levels of radon, a strongly carcinogenic natural radioactive element. Radon is an odorless, colorless gas produced by the breakdown of uranium that seeps out of the earth, more commonly in some places on the planet than others. It sometimes enters basements through concrete cracks and becomes trapped there, concentrated in the air that we breathe.

Related Weil Products
The Weil Vitamin Advisor for Your Body - Foods, herbs and drugs can all interact, sometimes in unexpected ways. The Weil Vitamin Advisor takes known interactions into account when developing recommendations, to help safeguard against adverse effects. Get your free, personalized Weil Vitamin Advisor recommendation today. Start now!

Some granite and other natural stones contains trace amounts of uranium. If it emits radon, it typically does so at very low levels. However, in some instances, tests have found that granite countertops give off potentially dangerous levels of radiation. The New York Times reported in July 2008 that the increased popularity of granite countertops over the past decade has resulted in an expansion of the kinds of granite available and that reports of "hot" countertops seem to come from "the more exotic and striated varieties from Brazil and Namibia."

However, allegations that granite countertops are radioactive and can emit radon gas are not new. They have been raised periodically, mostly by manufacturers and distributors of competing countertop materials as well as the manufacturers of radon detection devices. But the extent and significance of the problem is unknown. The Marble Institute of America (MIA) sponsored a study of 13 granite samples said to be representative of 95 percent of the countertops on the market. Conducted by a geologist from the University of Akron, the study showed that 10 of the 13 samples tested emit only insignificant amounts of radon; of the other three, one added only about seven percent of the amount of radon the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency deems "actionable" (in other words, the levels you should do something about, by installing venting systems for example). The other two granites tested added only one percent of the EPA action level.

On the other hand, according to the Times, preliminary results of another study at Rice University suggest that all of the 55 samples tested emit radiation at higher-than-background levels, some at 100 times background levels.

If you're interested in exotic granite, or worried about your existing countertops, testing for both radon and radiation makes sense. And note that the EPA advises that all homes be tested for radon - regardless of countertop material. If significant levels are found, you've got to do something about it to protect your family's health. For EPA information on radon, go to http://www.epa.gov/radon/pubs/citguide.html. To see the MIA study on granite, go to http://www.marble-institute.com/industryresources/radontesting_u-akron2008.pdf (pdf, Adobe Acrobat Reader required)

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle on DrWeil.com (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.