Reuben's Home Inspection Blog

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Radon in Granite Countertops: Don't Worry.

 

Back in 2008 there was a media scare related to radon in granite countertops.  The scare went something like this: radon causes lung cancer.  Granite contains radon.  Therefore, granite causes lung cancer.  There was even an article published in the New York Times, where some guy was actually quoted as saying "It's not that all granite is dangerous, but I've seen a few that might heat up your Cheerios a little."

Granite Countertop

I figured this media scare would quickly be forgotten about, but it seems there is still some information floating around making people worried about granite, as I recently had a client ask me whether he should be worried about elevated radon levels in his new house because of the granite countertops.

I'm not worried granite countertops. Not the slightest bit.  As for that New York Times article and the idea that some granite might heat up your Cheerios... I'm sorry, but that's just absurd.  In the same article, another expert says you have a better chance of getting struck by lightning than being at risk for cancer because of radon in granite.  Granite countertops may contain trace amounts of radon, but not enough to be of any consequence.  Being worried about granite is like being afraid of dirt. From everything I've read about this scare, I think it's mostly a laughable smear compaign; the people saying granite countertops present a radon risk are largely the manufacturers of competing products.  Gee, imagine that.

If you want to learn more about this topic, read what the unbiased parties have to say.  Check out the EPA info on radon in granite, or read this Position Statement on Granite Countertops and Radon Gas from the Technical and Science Committee of the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists (AARST).  The bottom line from both is that you should have the radon levels in your home tested, whether you have granite countertops or not.

 

Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections

        

Comment balloon 17 commentsReuben Saltzman • April 12 2011 06:18AM

Comments

Hi Ruben, 'my granite counter-tops are History'!  Just kidding, thanks for another informative post.

Posted by Dan Edward Phillips, Realtor and Broker/Owner (Dan Edward Phillips) over 7 years ago

Dan - you mean you're not going to tear 'em out like the person in the NY Times article did?  Ha!

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 7 years ago

 I had not heard of it so I am going to do some further reading .

Posted by Gita Bantwal, REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel (RE/MAX Centre Realtors) over 7 years ago

Gita - I hope I'm not opening a stale can of worms ;)

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 7 years ago

Hi Rueben, It's simply amazing what some folks will come up with. These counter tops will not "release" any radon into the home.

Good point.

Clint McKie

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) over 7 years ago

Thank Clint.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 7 years ago

HI Reuben - I remember reading several articles about this, including a couple where people had their countertops completely replaced at enormous cost. Then, nothing further. Now I know why. Thanks for the update. I hit Suggest.

Posted by Judy Klem, Home Staging, Senior Move Management, Fairfield/New Haven counties (Transition Stage LLC) over 7 years ago

The Times article really got the whole stupid idea of radon in granite counter tops rolling. In CT there is a state run radon agency. they are part of the department of public health. They immediately addresses this issue with all the registered radon testers in the state. They basically said, there is no scientific proof to back up this claim.

When I began radon testing ten years ago, the other non issue they talked about then was stone fireplaces. The same thing was said about those too, no proof that there is even a slight risk.

People just seem to have to find something to worry about.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 7 years ago

Rueben,

What people need to really understand is that everything is radioactive. If that granite was such a worry do even try living in Denver or fly on a airplane. Hmm warm cheerios, may the hotplate was a little close ; )

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

LOL, just like the cancer causing cell phone emission scare. Totally bogus.

Posted by Robert Butler, Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection (Aspect Inspection) over 7 years ago

Judy - I'm glad this whole issue mostly went away.  I never wrote about it because I didn't want to give it any attention... but at least now I have my opinion in writing and I can give it to clients that ask.  Thanks!

James - Stone fireplaces, huh?  That's a new one for me.  

Dale - I think you're right on with your comment about the hot plate!

Robert - but they need something to talk about...

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 7 years ago

Hi Reuben, the media can and will make a mountain out of a mole hill if it is profitable. 

Posted by Dale Ganfield over 7 years ago

Hi Reuben...glad to see someone else who's not afraid to do their research about radon.  I've heard a few rumblings in our area about granite counter tops.  Whenever I do, I politely educate the folks that they should be more worried about what's coming up from their basements than the miniscule amount that lingering on the kitchen counter.  Mind if I re-blog you?   ~Brooke

Posted by Bill & Brooke Cushing (National Property Inspections) over 7 years ago

Dale - exactly.

Brooke - I don't mind at all :).  Please do.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 7 years ago

That's your typical NY Times article.  The guy has not seen any that lit up Cheerios in any way, nor could name any granite compositions or brands that have radon.  But he's willing to put it in an article!

I would bet that what most people know about Three Mile Island came from the press, and virtually NONE of that was true.

A friend of mine is a nuclear physicist and he says that there is more radioactivity in a shovel full of dirty than in a spent nuclear rod!  So don't go outside...  But you can believe a NY Times article about nuclear rods instead.  And get ready to die...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

My wife and I were out on a date on Tuesday night, and John Tesh was on the radio talking about radiation all around us.  He mentioned that granite countertops do put off radiation, but that there was more radiation in the atmosphere we live in everyday!

So there is much more to worry about than Radon from your granite.

Posted by Jeremy Wrenn, President, Wrenn Home Improvements (Wrenn Home Improvements) over 7 years ago

Jay - you're exactly right about the granite.  As for the Three Mile Island stuff, I had no idea.

Jeremy - I've heard the same thing about the radiation levels.  It's just a bunch of hype.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 7 years ago

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