EPA’s Granite and Radon Statement Nothing New

The next volley in the battle about radon and granite countertops has been fired, this time by the Marble Institute of America. According to the Marble Institute of America the EPA has stated that “granite countertops pose no significant health risk.”

However, if you really read what the EPA wrote you might come to a different conclusion as to what it seems to be saying. I have lifted the parts of the statement that deal directly with radon and granite. There were other statements included about testing a home’s air for radon and the advisability of that.

While natural minerals such as granite may occasionally emit radon gas, the levels of radon attributable to such sources are not typically high.  EPA believes the principal source of radon in homes is soil gas that is drawn indoors through a natural suction process. While radon levels attributable to granite are not typically high, there are simply too many variables to generalize about the potential health risks inside a particular home that has granite countertops. It is prudent to limit your family’s exposure to radon whenever possible. Granite is a natural mineral formed by earth’s geology. It is mined and used to produce commercial products such as countertops. It is possible for any granite sample to contain varying concentrations of uranium that can produce radon gas. Some granite used in countertops may contribute variably to indoor radon levels. However, EPA has no reliable data to conclude that types of granite used in countertops are significantly increasing indoor radon levels. EPA is aware of a few studies that have conducted limited research on radon in granite countertops. EPA will continue to review this research. EPA will continue to monitor and analyze the evolving research on this issue and will update its recommendations as appropriate.

I don’t know about you but what I get from that is that granite could emit radon gas and contribute to indoor radon levels, but in reality the EPA has no reliable data on the subject. So, who knows why it bothered to make a statement.

7 thoughts on “EPA’s Granite and Radon Statement Nothing New”

  1. As you are probably very aware, there have been on-going accusations that have been consistently made against natural granite products having the ability to cause cancer, because of the high levels of radon that they have been said to produce. These accusations have been going on for quite a while, and it is time to put them to rest.

    Who better to accomplish this, than professionals who strive to ensure the safety, as well as the satisfaction of all customers? The National Stone Restoration Alliance is ready to put accusations to rest. Josveek Huligar, a proud member of the NSRA is willing to conduct a very important test in his own home. This is a test that can ultimately change the world of granite, as we know it.

    Huligar plans to have the very slab of granite, which was said to be ‘hot’ and to have contained radon, installed in his own home. The entire process will be on camera no less, for the entire world to see. Before the slab of granite is to be installed, samples will be taken, and the air will be tested in the home, as described by the EPA, and then sent to be evaluated by AirChek ( http://www.radon.com ), to check for traces of radon and radiation. When this test is complete, the granite will be installed, and then his home will be tested once again to check the levels of radon and radiation. You can monitor this entire process yourself on a public web cam at http://www.nsraweb.com

    The slab being used for this test has been provided by Mr. Tim Scarlata of Atlantic Granite & Marble ( http://www.atlanticgranite.com ), located in Rochester N.Y. After searching extensively to find the perfect slab for the test, Scarlata was able to locate two slabs of granite that did in fact produce higher than normal readings of radiation. Atlantic Granite & Marble will also be fabricating and installing the counter top while on video for the public to view.

    There have been some individuals who have spent large amounts of money on not only the installation of natural granite in their homes, but then they have turned right around and paid tons more money in having the granite removed because of the scare that has been put on society with the radon issues. Huligar, being in the business of ensuring customer satisfaction and quality, also takes this issue very seriously, because the health and well being of his customers are at stake. He plans to do everything possible to ensure the continued safety and reliability of NSRA customers.

    You could certainly be seriously hurt, or even killed if granite were to fall on top of you, but at this time, this is the only way that has been proven to cause harm to anyone.

    It is the believed that the radon scare is nothing more than marketing strategies, and it has done exactly what it was intended to do, and that is cause fear of using granite in the general public. Huligar and associates of NSRA do not believe this to be true. However, he knows how important it is for the public to see that he stands behind the good name of The Natural Stone Restoration Alliance and their objective to supply clients with the natural beauty of stone, and that every effort will always be taken to do so in a safe manner. To further put the publics mind at rest, solutions to any unfavorable characteristics have already been found.

    This test is vital to the natural stone industry, and Huligar is ready to stand up to the test to prove that granite is not harmful to the general public. People need to be able to see these accusations called upon.

    The Natural Stone Restoration Alliance (NSRA) has already done their own research, and released their information that looked at both past and present studies, as well as the marketing strategies used by manufacturers that birthed the scare of radon in the home. The findings of this research are quite simply that levels of radon have no significant difference when granite has been installed in a home.

    Do not let yourself fall into the trap of letting unproven fears cost you hundreds of dollars, find out the truth yourself by watching the web cam at Natural Stone Restoration Alliance | Home, and let this door be closed once and for all. Viewers can also comment on the research that is being performed at http://www.nsraweb.com/forums/news-5/live-testing-kitchen-radon-before-granite-9010.html

    The set up and testing of the hot slabs starts 9/6/2008 at 10am.

    The test will be ending September 8, 2008 @ 6:15

    Web Site:
    http://www.nsraweb.com/forums/news-5/live-testing-kitchen-radon-before-granite-9010.html

  2. We know one of the EPA heads and have worked with them on this issue. The original statement put out on a Friday, which was then immediately seized by the MIA and put out in their press release, was retracted by theEPA following Monday.

    What you found was their revised statement, which as you mentioned was completely contridictory to the MIA’s claims. Basically the EPA is a huge place, but the guy we had been feeding data to got wind of the earlier statement, then got it reviewed. That Monday, we watched the FAQ info change, then would fire off fast emails with information that was needed to clarify the issues.

    Sealing granite was one of the bits that needed corrected, they thought it would stop some of the Radon. We knew better and had the data to back it up.

    The finial statement wasn’t perfect, but it included the bit about some granites being above source grade (nuclear fuel) levels, and they made it clear the issue was far from settled. I thought the EPA did a good thing when they saw the MIA missusing their earlier statement.

    And old Huligar…..

    As entertaining as it is to read him refering to himself in the third person, much of his info is completely false.

    Now you notice that Huligar had lots to say up until his Radon test started. Initially he claimed about 1 pCi/L increase in Radon levels. Not the 200, 400 or one million times less that he has claimed in numerous posts all over the inter net. But Huligar suddenly clammed up about the middle of November after he found out his test was defective, with a very leaky apartment allowing too much fresh air in the home.

    By the way, 1 pCi/L has a risk associated with it. The EPA calculates the 21,000 deaths per year from Radon from the national average in U S homes, 1.3
    pCi/L. Huligar’s 1 pCi/L would have a death rate of 16,000 per year if the national home level was 1 pCi/L. Hardly safe.

    Best keep looking for info on this topic rather than believe the stone industry. Way too much money at risk, plus the have sucessfully covered this up for the past 14 years. They can’t tell the truth, so they keep digging the hole deeper.

    If this was a non issue, neither the CRCPD (state radiation officials) nor AARST (radon scientists) would have committees seting maximum allowable radiation/radon levels for stones and measurement protocols. ANSI and ASME are also looking into the controversy for their organizations.

    On the radon issue, we have a full scale radon test going currently, over 10 pCi/L so far from only 18square feet of granite in a 96 square foot room. That is like smoking 1 1/2 packs a day,

    http://forum.solidsurfacealliance.org/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=98ST

    We have a lot of info on the topics available.
    forum.solidsurfacealliance.org
    solidsurfacealliance.org/blog
    solidsurfacealliance.org

  3. “THE EXTENSIVE MEASUREMENTS AND RIGOROUS MATHEMATICAL MODELING CONDUCTED TO DATE INDICATE THAT EXTERNAL DOSES OF IONIZING RADIATION EMITTED FROM GRANITE COUNTERTOPS ARE WELL BELOW A LEVEL THE WOULD POSE A HEALTH CONCERN AND CONTRIBUTIONS FROM GRANITE COUNTERTOPS TO RADON LEVELS IN HOMES ARE LOWER THAN BACKGROUND LEVELS OF
    RADON EXPOSURES TYPICALLY FOUND OUTDOORS AND INDOORS”

    You can read more here:
    http://www.marble-institute.com/industryresources/assessingexposurereport.pdf

  4. Jango,

    Here is a quote from one of the professional Radon forums that addresses that ridiculous MIA study. This was from one of the leading researchers on Radon here in the U.S. responding to a MIA post on the forum.

    Quote:

    “MIA publically released an Executive Summary of a report from their technical consultants in mid-November. Sometime later that month I received a copy of the full report but I do not think that report was widely circulated in the radon community. (Perhaps Mr. Lxxxxx would share it with the list. ) After extensive critical examination, I have recently submitted an extensive set of questions to the MIA and their consultants about the contents of that final report to try to clarify their methods and results.

    In mid-December, I received electronic copies of DRAFT proposals of pre-market and home screening protocols from MIA’s consultants. These documents came with the admonition that I was to keep them confidential even from the members of my committee. These documents were incomplete and did not contain scientific data that would be necessary to judge the effectiveness of the screening methods proposed. I have not shared these documents with anyone nor started a critical review of them in hopes that the final proposals would be more substantial.

    Without going into lengthy technical detail at this point I would say that it is premature to expect even a tacit approval of the MIA’s proposed methodology or standards for radon-related risk assessment of indoor uses of decorative stone like granite.”

    End Quote:

    As you can see, this Radon scientist gave a public spanking to the MIA for their presumption of AARST approval and their sloppy study. The radiation side of the report is just as shaky, if not more so. For instance, they actually used a granite countertop at 19 uR/hr to demonstrate that the radiation faded to background levels at a short distance. The problem was they tested in a high background radiation area, 15 uR/hr. So they basically took a safe countertop and proclaimed it was safe!

    Now try that with a countertop giving off hundreds of uR/hr gamma and you have another story. In addition, the entire report specifically rejected Beta radiation as a health risk despite the fact that some of the radiation sources in granite are almost pure Beta and at meV levels that will reach out dozens of feet.

    Furthermore, the guys that wrote this “study” were so inexperienced that they confused urem with uR, something a first year radiation student should know. It is to be expected as these guys are indoor air quality experts, not radiation or Radon experts.

    The MIA has not yet learned this lesson, that in this internet age, it doesn’t pay to mislead when you can be so easily found out. Hiring consultants to lie for you won’t work when the rest of the scientific field can call them on it.

    What else ya got?

  5. Al,
    this joke about granite and radon that you and your sponsors (Cambria, Silexstone through Buildclean.com) put together was really funny.

    The American Council on Science and Health gave the award for
    “The Top 10 Unfounded Health Scares of 2008″

    You’re in position # 10, but we should really appreciate your efforts.
    You can read it at

    http://www.acsh.org/publications/pubID.1751/pub_detail.asp

    Yeah, now you’re going to tell us that the “The nucleus of ACSH a board of 350 physicians, scientists and policy advisors”, in reality is a group of granite shops sponsored by the MIA.

  6. Rackoon,

    To lead off with a claim that Silestone and Cambria are funding me in any manner was your first mistake. Our only funding came from an initial bunch of fabricators, including some like me that sell granite along with the other materials. We have never recieved any funding from any quartz company. Also, were you truly informed, you would know that Silestone had to quit the testing effort last summer, pressure from the two big box stores who didn’t want to find out what their exposures were in this controversy.

    As to the ACSH, no matter the credintials, if they are ignorant on the subject, their advice will be ignorant as well. Dr. Kitto’s paper on Radon from granite countertops will be published in the April issue of Health Physics Journal. He is one of many researchers that are currently conducting studies on granite countertop materials.

    As to the ACSH motivation, here is where they blew their cover.

    “especially since ACSH disproved the myth that even the slightest exposure to radiation increases your health risk in our 2006 brochure What’s the Story? Health Effects of Low-Level Radiation.”

    Looks like they are defending their past opinions on the subject.

    The BEIR VII report would beg to differ. And look it up, there are thousands of scientists from all over the world that participated in that paper.
    http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?isbn=030909156X

    On the E, H, & E study funded by the MIA, it is being savaged by the scientists that are reviewing it. It has been called “untrustworthy”.

    Here are some comments from a researcher that the MIA tried to silence, from a letter to her editor. Sentences are MIA claims are in quote marks, her response is in normal type.

    Quote:

    “More than 400 tests of 115 different varieties of granite countertops were tested”
    The 115 slabs of granite were not an adequate sample from which to draw conclusions. Further, only 39 full slabs were tested, representing 27 unique types.

    Many hundreds of granite types are sold in the U.S. I have surveyed about 1000 slabs of granite. Colleagues have surveyed far more. Our consensus is that we have only examined the tip of the iceberg.

    “The tested slabs comprise approximately 80 percent of the annual U.S. market share for granite countertops”

    Estimates of “problem granite” vary from 1-2% up to 15%. We invite MIA to address the 20% of granite they have failed to discuss.

    “Not one stone reached even on-tenth (sic) of the U.S. EPA’s action level for radon”

    Stones are not tested for radon concentration. Indoor air is tested for radon concentration, and the test result is compared to the EPA action level. Indoor radon concentration will depend on radon emission, the volume of the room, and the amount of ventilation.

    From Emanation of Radon from Household Granite (Dr. Michael Kitto, in press):

    Each of the 24 granite samples emitted a measurable amount of radon…
    The range of radon concentrations produced by the granites spans three orders of magnitude. (that would be 1,000 times more radon in some samples)

    Dr. Kitto indicated the study examined “typical granite”, and “the hottest gamma emitters I’ve measured are 10-15 times the granites discussed in the paper”.

    A section of granite from my client’s kitchen emitted 350 pCi/ft2 in each hour. The radon in her kitchen was three times as high as the radon in her bedroom.

    A colleague constructed an 8’ x 12’ “test kitchen” containing 36 square feet of moderately radioactive granite. In a week, radon concentration in the test kitchen rose from 1 pCi/L to nearly 30 pCi/L. The EPA action level for radon is 4 pCi/L.

    “Not one stone emitted radiation levels that were even close to the European Commission’s negligible level for human health risk”‘

    Ms. Currie’s statement is not in agreement with the MIA / EH&E report. From section 4.1.1.1 of that report:

    Of the 39 stones tested, 18 had hazard index levels at or higher than 6, which corresponds to a dose criteria (sic) of 6 mSva-1.

    According to the EC document Radiological Protection Principles concerning the Natural Radioactivity of Building Materials, building material with an Activity Concentration Index exceeding 6 should not be used in occupied structures.

    http://ec.europa.eu/energy/nuclear/radioprotection/publication/doc/112_en.pdf

    A section of granite from my client’s kitchen had an Activity Concentration Index of 15.8.

    Consumers have the right to know what they are bringing into their homes. Some granite contains as much uranium as commercial uranium ore. Most homeowners would not choose to bring uranium ore in their kitchens.

    End quote:

    Rakoon, the MIA spent one million dollars last year trying to supress this discussion. Ask them if they are laughing at this joke”.

  7. Al,
    I have to repeat myself:
    350 physicians, scientists and policy advisers of the
    “The American Council on Science and Health”.
    Top 10 Unfounded Health Scares of 2008:
    Numer 10: Granite countertops emitting radon.
    The media finally are finding the truth:
    A hoax. Promoted and funded by the plastic surfaces producers.
    Look at this:

    http://www.foxnews.com/video-search/m/21037969/ask_the_doctor.htm#q=granite

    Do you hear the part where it says where the rumor came from?

    On another subject, If I don’t mistake you are the gentleman who stated that those who buy granite countertops are funding Islamic terrorism. Please explain that, without complicated formulas.

    Al, there is no way you can force consumers to buy your fake plastic surfaces. They’re ugly, period. You try to scare the consumer and your plastic surface is still ugly. Tell your sponsor to invest its time and money to make its ugly product more appealing, instead of scaring us with fake stories on their biggest competition.

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