How To Look At A House
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Do granite countertops emit radon?
Thursday, July 12, 2018
While some granite countertops have been found to emit trace amounts of radon, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has stated that there isn’t enough evidence to indicate that they increase radon above the normal, existing level in a home, and we agree. Here’s what EPA has to say:
Granite’s durability and decorative appearance make it a popular building material in homes and buildings. The rock comes in a wide range of colors that vary with the elements in it. Granite, like any other rock, can contain naturally occurring radioactive elements like radium, uranium and thorium. Some pieces of granite contain more of these elements than others. If present, these radioactive elements will decay into radon, a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas.
The radon gas may be released from the granite over time. However, since granite is generally not very porous, less radon is likely to escape from it than from a more porous stone such as sandstone.
It’s important to know that radon originating in the soil beneath homes is a more common problem and a far larger public health risk than radon from granite building materials. Also, any radon from granite countertops in kitchens or bathrooms is likely to be diluted in the typical home since those rooms are usually well ventilated.
In addition to radon, the other natural radioactive materials in the granite can emit radiation. However, it is extremely unlikely that granite countertops in homes could increase radiation doses above that the normal, natural background dose that comes from soil and rocks.
For a more detailed analysis of the radon levels found in natural stone, we suggest clicking on the link below to download a white paper prepared by Environmental Health and Engineering for the Natural Stone Institute.
But the fact that stone countertops emit a negligible amount of radon does not mean that you don’t have a high radon level in your home caused by uranium and radium in the soil below your house. We recommend testing, and a home test kit is available at the big-box home improvement warehouses and most hardware stores for about $25.
Also, see our blog posts What is the danger of radon in well water? and Will opening the windows reduce the radon level in a house?
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