Radon in Granite Countertops: Is It Dangerous?

Your granite countertops are probably emitting radon, but the levels are low and generally not dangerous. Image by Tel Asiado

Your granite countertops are probably emitting radon, but the levels are low and generally not dangerous. Image by Tel Asiado

Are there dangerous levels of radon coming from your granite countertops? Rocks and minerals may naturally contain traces of radioactive elements called NORMS (Naturally-Occurring Radioactive Mineral) and therefore can produce small amounts of radiation, but how much?

Granite Releases Radon

Granite is one of the most common rocks found in the Earth’s crust, and is made mostly of feldspar and quartz, and smaller amounts of mica and hornblende. These naturally-occurring elements which give granite its distinctive beauty will decay over time into radon. Radon is a radioactive gas which granite can release into its surrounding atmosphere – does this make granite a hazard in the kitchen?

Radon Radioactivity

You’re more likely to get high levels of radon from the soil beneath your home than from your granite countertops, according to the EPA. The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) states in the Consumer’s Guide to Radon Reduction that in: “a small number of homes, the building materials (e.g., granite and certain concrete products) can give off radon, although building materials rarely cause radon problems by themselves. In the United States, radon gas in soils is the principal source of elevated radon levels in homes.”

Radon in Granite Countertops: Is It Safe?

The EPA also says that 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.” What’s the bottom line? You’re more likely to get radon exposure from the dirt under and around your home than you are from your countertops – but if you’re worried, you can get your levels tested. If you do have granite in your home, keep your rooms aired-out, to avoid buildup of radon gas in the air.

If you have questions about testing your countertops for radon content, or would like more information about certified radon technicians, visit the EPA’s website for radon, and the FDA website for the latest updates on food-related issues.

Resources:

Challoner, Jack, Farndon, John, Walshaw, Rodney. Rocks, Minerals & the Changing Earth.  (2008). Southwater, Anness Publishing Ltd.  London.

EPA. Consumer’s Guide to Radon ReductionGranite Countertops and RadiationRadon. (2013). Accessed April 29, 2013.

FDA. US Food and Drug Administration. Accessed April 29, 2013.

Radon Air Chek Inc.  Granite and Radon. Accessed April 29, 2013.

World Nuclear Association.  Naturally-Occurring Radioactive Materials (NORM).  Accessed April 29, 2013.

© Copyright 2013 Tel Asiado, All rights Reserved. Written For: Decoded Science