When news reports about the alleged dangers of granite countertops (link points to a New York Times article — you may need to register for a FREE account to view it) in the kitchen came out several weeks ago, I knew it would be followed by press releases from the kitchen manufacturers claiming the exact opposite. And I was right. Granite countertops are perfectly safe, they said.
“A considerable amount of research has been published in peer-reviewed scientific literature and all of it comes to the same conclusion: the levels of radon emitted into the air from a granite countertop are not excessive and not showing any risk for the population in their homes,” said Dr. John McCarthy, president of Environmental Health & Engineering, a public health consulting firm in suburban Boston.
McCarthy, who holds degrees from Harvard University and Boston College and has overseen more than 2,500 indoor environmental quality assessments, said some news stories about radon and granite have failed to address the critical role that air dilution plays in testing, measuring and interpreting radon levels in homes.
“To properly measure radon, one must calculate the emission rate in connection with the area of granite and the volume of air in the home,” he said. “Much like paint fumes do, radon generally will dilute into a home’s air. These concentrated emissions will generally dilute down to harmless levels. To get even close to the type of dangerous levels of radon exposure that’s been reported in news articles recently, a consumer would have to completely seal off the room and stay in that room 24/7 — for 72 years.” [Housingzone.com]
It was going to be a propaganda war. Instead of panicking (yes, we do have granite countertops in the kitchen), I decided to read more about the topic and try to make sense of the information without paying too much attention on the war for profits.
An article from MedicineNet.com clarifies a few things. Thirteen types of granite, representing 85% of all granite types used for kitchen countertops in the U.S, have been tested and found safe. The problem is that those 13 types of granite hardly encompass all types of granite being sold for making kitchen countertops in the entire planet. The best move is to get one of those home test kits for radon to determine how safe the granite is that one has at home. Where to find one, I have no idea. :shock: