Are granite countertops radon free? Can granite countertops be a health risk to you and your family? Back in 2008 granite countertops radon emission hit the news headlines, potential health hazards and other issues arose ... an International discussion of the matter helped shed some light on the risks involved.
The New York Times and The Houston Chronicle news article about the potential health hazard in our homes, put radon emission from granite in the spotlight. Back then we had the granite fabricators on one side saying that the granite radiation was not dangerous, which means it does have radiation. The question was if the granite emission was acceptable as per health standards.
What is radon?
Scientifically Radon was discovered in 1899, it's a gas an is highly radioactive, you can't see it as it has no color, you can't smell it as it's odorless. Radon gas is a serious cause of cancer, it's said to be the second cause of lung cancer in the US.
Radon gas has it's origin in uranium's natural breakdown, it's not manufactured nor sold, you can find radon gas, almost everywhere (normally in small non harmful amounts).
So is it really a threat? Can my granite countertops be a health threat?
Radon gas level is measured in PCi/l (Picocuries Per Liter) action should be taken is the level is above 4 Pci/L. In theory small levels of Radon gas can be found in several places in your home, it's highly soluble in water and is air born, your granite countertop, your granite tile, or any other granite used in construction may not be the only materials you have that emit this gas.
In truth granite countertops may emit radon gas, however the levels are significantly low to actually pose as a health hazard. The current level of radon gas that exists in buildings is most likely greater than the single emission of your granite countertop.Their are many other sources of radon gas in your home, most of it comes in through the soil or rock base of your home. You can also find traces in some construction materials used to build your home, besides granite as we have already mentioned, you may find it in bricks, cement, etc.
One thing that has been proven is that each type of granite has a radon emission level, and it varies significantly, although scientists are unable to actually attach numbers to specific types of granite, which means that the existing level in a specific granite countertop is not easily accessed, the only way to be certain is to measure it.
I guess it safe to say that granite has been around for ages, and it's still not proven that it's hazardous to our health.