Granite, Radon, Radiation and Other Myths
There is an urban legend that suggests granite countertops can emit harmful levels of radon or radiation. It's just not true.
Scientists have spent years trying to determine the facts behind this persistent rumor. They have consistently found that granite countertops are safe when properly installed in a home.
The myth endures because it has been promoted by some companies that manufacture synthetic stone countertops as a way to increase sales of their products, which consumers have consistently found to be less desirable and less attractive than natural stone.
Plenty of people have been fooled. The myth has even been the subject of some news stories. But scientists who have studied hundreds of different types of granite countertops and analyzed thousands of countertop installations have not found any situation that poses significant radon or radiation risks.
What is Radon, Anyway?
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas found all around us. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says the primary source of radon in a home is the soil surrounding it and some types of stone beneath it.
Most radon dissipates in the atmosphere, but sometimes it can seep into a home's basement. In high enough concentrations, prolonged exposure can lead to lung cancer. But radon problems are easily fixed in a home with the installation of radon venting equipment. Scientists have determined that granite countertops do not significantly contribute to radon concentrations in a home.
What is Radiation?
Radiation is also naturally occurring. The leading source of radiation is the sun, so people living in "Mile-High" Denver are exposed to more radiation than people living in DesMoines because they are closer to the sun. Every time you fly in an airplane, you are exposed to more radiation than if you strolled on the ground.
Some natural radioactive elements may be found in a few types of granite. However, studies have consistently shown they are not a significant source of radiation. In fact, other things routinely found in a home tend to emit radiation, including concrete blocks, smoke detectors, television sets, Brazil nuts and even bananas and potatoes. Don't worry, though, they are no more harmful than granite countertops.
Where Can I Get the Facts?
The Marble Institute of America has a library of information about radon and radiation in granite countertops. The links below offer documents that tell the real story. Feel free to download these documents. If you still have questions, feel free to send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- MIA Brochure: The Truth About Granite and Radon/Radiation
- NEW Scientific Study: Radiation dose to workers due to the inhalation of dust during granite fabrication Coming Soon — to be published in the Journal of Radiological Protection)
- Scientific Study: Statistical analysis of 1 million countertop purchases shows virtually no risk from radon
- Scientific Study: Researchers assess hundreds of types of granite and find no risk of radon or radiation exposure
- Scientific Study: Review of scientific literature finds no significant risk from granite countertop radon emissions
- Background on Radon: EPA Citizen's Guide to Radon
- Health Canada Study: A 2010 study by Health Canada of 33 types of commonly purchased granite found no significant levels of radon.
- Testing for Radon: What you can do to test for radon in a home