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Granite Countertops a Recipe for Danger?

Debate Heats Up About Radon Risks
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Others Believe Fears Are Justified continued...

Llope tells WebMD that he began testing granite samples “on his own time” after seeing a story about granite countertops and radon on a Houston news program.

He tests for gamma radiation emission using a special spectrometer.

In a recently published review of radon tests conducted by others, Llope reported that 92 of 95 granite samples tested emitted no radon or very little radon. Two samples emitted levels that were elevated but still considered safe, and one emitted levels slightly above what is considered cause for concern by EPA.

Like Kitto, Llope has found elevated levels in a very small number of the granite samples he has personally tested.

But he tells WebMD that if even a tiny percentage of the granite used to make countertops emits unsafe levels of radon or other radiation, that could represent a danger in thousands of homes.

“Granite has gotten so popular so quickly that it is now coming from all over the world,” he says. “It would come as no surprise that granite that comes from areas with uranium mines close by might pose a problem. But the testing hasn’t been done.”

More Granite Testing Needed

According to Marble Institute of America spokesman Jim Martinez, 2,000 different stones from quarries around the world are sold as granite in the United States.

At most, only a tiny percentage of them have been tested for radon or radiation levels, but a recent test of 13 types of granite typically used for countertops found no radon or very low levels of radon.

The test was paid for by the MIA, and the samples represented 85% of the granite used for kitchen countertops in the United States, Martinez says.

He says that the MIA-funded research represents the only “real” science examining the issue, because no one else has been willing to pay for quality studies.

“(Our) studies have consistently shown that granite poses no heath risk,” he says.

But Kitto says there is no way to know if all granite countertops are safe because so few samples have been tested.

“Right now, it is impossible to understand the scope of the problem or even if there is a problem,” he says.

Llope agrees that more samples need to be tested.

“The industry says there is no danger, but how can they make that leap of faith when granite is coming from all over the world and only a small percentage has been tested?” he says. “How can they possibly know?”

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