Oh, to have granite countertops adorn your kitchen! They are the dream countertops for many people who are building a new home or remodeling their current home. The quality, appearance, and even status, attracts many people; however, another element of granite countertops has come to the forefront in recent years – radon.
When concerns about granite countertops and radon arise, misinformation abounds. Granite does contain radioactive materials that can eventually decay into radon, so it is true that granite countertops can release radon. However, not all granites are the same. The most important concern should be testing the air in your home, rather than the countertops.
Consider where granite countertops are typically installed – in kitchens and bathrooms. These two rooms are normally some of the most well ventilated rooms in your home. The small amount of radon coming from granite countertops is very likely to be safely dispersed in the air. Granite is also less porous than other substances, which means less radon is likely to be released1. The greater concern should be testing the indoor air for the entire home, instead of concern from only one building material. Nearly 70% of the sources of radon come from the soil under and around the house. Building materials, such as countertops, only account for 2.5%2. Testing the air in your home is far more important than testing the countertops.
Testing the air in your home is all you generally need to do. However, it is possible to purchase a radon test kit specifically for countertops. If you do wish to do so, make sure the kit is designed only for testing granite countertops. Using a standard short-term test kit on the counter (completely exposed or under a bowl) does not give an accurate representation of how much radon is originating from the granite countertop.
Prolonged exposure to radon can lead to lung cancer. Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. All homes should be tested for radon. If radon exposure concerns you, test your home today. Georgia residents can get a test kit from the local UGA County Extension Office or order one online at www.UGAradon.org. If you reside in another state, you can find your state radon contact on the EPA website. Testing is simple to do and can save your life and the life of a loved one.
Test. Fix. Save a Life.
Guest blogger: Gabrielle Walters, CHES, MPH and Radon Educator with The University of Georgia Department of Financial Planning, Housing and Consumer Economics.
1U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Radiation Protection. http://www.epa.gov/rpdweb00/tenorm/granite-countertops.html
2Air Chek, Inc. Radon.com http://www.radon.com/radon/granite.html