Granite Countertops a Recipe for Danger?
Debate Heats Up About Radon Risks
Countertop Concerns Not New continued...
“I will not comment on anything that they are saying,” he said. “All I will say is that our position is on the web site.”
That position, as of early this week, was much more nuanced than the institute claims, noting that “some granite used for countertops may contribute variably to indoor radon levels.”
“At this time, however, EPA does not believe sufficient data exist to conclude that the types of granite commonly used in countertops are significantly increasing indoor radon levels,” the statement reads.
In response to the question, “Are the levels of radon in granite dangerous to humans or animals?” the EPA states, “While radon levels attributable to granite are not typically high, there are simply too many variables to generalize about the potential health risks inside a particular home that has granite countertops.”
Little Cause for Alarm, Expert Says
Columbia’s Brenner believes it is highly unlikely that granite countertops emit enough radon to pose a health risk because they cover such a small area.
“The biggest source of radiation within the home is indeed radon,” he says. “But it is not radon from countertops, it’s radon from the ground.”
Radon is an odorless, tasteless, colorless radioactive gas that results from the natural decay of uranium in soil, rock, and water. All agree that the biggest risk to homeowners is radon seeping into homes from the ground.
Most people living in areas with high radon concentrations, such as New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and upstate New York, are very aware of the potential risk, Brenner says.
“You can’t get a mortgage in New Jersey without having a radon test,” he says. “If radon is above a certain level, you have to take action.”
The risk from radon comes from breathing it into your lungs, and Brenner says any radon coming from granite countertops would quickly diffuse into the air.
“Even a countertop that is ten or a hundred times higher than average is going to constitute a minimal contribution of radon.”
Others Believe Fears Are Justified
But Rice University’s Llope is not so sure.