Granite Countertops and Radon. Are They Safe for Your Home?
If you love the look of granite countertops but are having second thoughts because you remember hearing somewhere they emit radioactive radon (which can cause lung cancer), let’s put this urban myth to rest once and for all.
Learn firsthand from Wisconsin's top granite fabricators how granite countertops are safe for your home.
First, though, it would help to understand something about radon…
What is Radon, Anyway?
Radon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas that is literally all around us. It comes from the decay of uranium and other rocks in the earth and rises up though the soil. It’s even in the air we breathe outdoors, but in such small quantities as to be completely harmless.
Radon gas also infiltrates the basements of homes, and in an enclosed space with no ventilation (as during the winter months when the windows are kept closed) radon levels can accumulate to dangerously high levels in a basement. This is why the basis of radon mitigation systems is a fan-powered exhaust system.
Do Granite Counters Emit Radon?
Like any rock, granite can have small quantities of radioactive elements that decay into radon over time. It’s the same with many other products we come into contact with every day: Concrete, clay (bricks), stoneware plates and glass products made from silica (this would include your drinking glasses, mirrors, windows and even eye glasses). All these products emit small amounts of radiation. And this list is just for starters.
Can The Amount Of Radiation Released From A Granite Countertop Harm You?
Absolutely not. Numerous studies and tests have been conducted and the conclusion has always been the same: There just isn’t enough radon emitted by granite countertops to be concerned about. A much greater concern is the radon that enters our homes through the concrete floor and concrete blocks walls.
What Does the EPA Have to Say About It?
The EPA has looked into the issue of radon gas coming from granite counter tops. While they acknowledge granite (like all stones) can contain veins of naturally occurring radioactive elements that can decay into radon gas, they conclude “It is extremely unlikely that radiation from granite countertops would increase annual radiation does above normal, natural background levels.” Read more on what the EPA has to say now.
Radon Testing Company Couldn’t Find a Single Granite Counter Emitting Radon
To give you an idea how little a concern granite countertops should be, consider what one radon testing company has to say. By their account, North Carolina-based Air Chek, Inc. performed “tens of thousands” of tests on the granite countertops of worried homeowners and never found a single countertop putting out hazardous levels of radon gas.
Not a one.
While these tests were easy money for the company, they discontinued offering them out of a belief it was a disservice to their customers. Their advice: If you’re really concerned about radon levels in your home, it’s not your granite countertop you should be concerned about. It’s your basement.
We couldn’t agree more.
Enjoy Your Granite Counters, But Get Your Home Tested for Radon
We encourage anyone concerned about radon gas in their homes to have a radon test done. Although you can usually get the DIY charcoal canister radon test kits for around $20 or less (which includes test results emailed to you), a more thorough test is the kind performed by a licensed radon testing company. They use a highly sensitive device which continuously monitors radon levels over a 48-hour period.