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Radioactive Counter Tops


monsoon

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Granite counter tops seem to be all the rage in Charlotte these days. Seems like every new condo going up in the city has these things now. How many of you are now concerned they may be filling your home with radon gas? (The EPA is getting increasing number of calls from people who found their counter tops have trace amounts of natural uranium which emits the gas.)

Can radiation be bad if it is "natural"?

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The average person comes in contact about 0.20 roentgen equivalent in man annually. To determine if these countertops are dangerous is to determine how much rem one person can be exposed to. Anything unless 50 rem in a lifetime is safe enough, compared to a one time exposure of greater than 200 rem in Chernobyl.

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While I'm sure they aren't THE absolute answer, but here is one answer to the "are my granite countertops harmful" question that I found at the Health Physics Society website:

"Granite, as with all other kinds of rock and soil, contains some naturally occurring radioactive elements including thorium, uranium, and potassium-40, a radioactive isotope of potassium. However, generally speaking, the amount of radioactivity in most granites is quite small, amounting to a few tens of parts per million at the extreme. While it is possible to get a measurable level of external radiation from some granites (most notably Grand Central Station in New York City), the levels are so low as to not be harmful to human health. So enjoy your new house with its granite kitchen countertop (which I suspect is quite beautiful) without worry or fear from health hazards from radioactivity in granite."

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This is a great topic, but I don't know what this has to do with Charlotte. Granite counter tops is the "newest trend" in kitchens across all of America and possibly others countries. Certainly I am concerned and would like to see further testing, but I wouldn't rule out anything at this point. It reminds me of the whole "Cell Phone/Cancer" latest scare that is brought by one researcher. Again, there needs to be further testing and determinations then some sort of implementation, probably gov't funded to replace these and find alternatives if it comes to that point. I'll hold off putting granite in my kitchen for now, but not going to blow this out of proportion yet.

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I haven't heard of this, but did a Google search and came across this NY Times Article on the subject. They profiled one NJ home where the radon levels were extremely elevated due to the granite countertops. The homeowner had them removed the day of the test.

From what else I've read, it seems that while the demand has increased and varities of colors and patterns have increased we have run into this more.

The Marble Institute of America is looking into developing testing that would help minimize this threat, but it is probably a couple of years off..

Hmmm.. I guess I'll be thinking of other options for my kitchen upgrade..

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