Did anyone see this? I wonder if there is anything to it.
Here is a link that might be useful: Are granite countertops bad for your health?
Follow the money:
" So who is paying for the BuildClean study?
Theyre being set up as a non-profit, and theyÂre funded with two large donations.
The first is $250,000 from the makers of ÂSilestone.Â They manufacture quartz countertops, which is a direct competitor to granite.
BuildClean is also getting money from Cambria, another quartz manufacture"
my MIL insists this is true, and it drives me crazy! She has quartz, btw... I think anything has bacteria on it if you don't clean it.
I lived in Greece for a while and everything is granite or marble over there. Every floor, every building...it's everywhere. If you've been to the Mediterranean then you know what I'm talking about. I don't think the cancer rates are higher there than over here. Funny how quartz manufacturers are trying to make granite the bad guy. I think it's a scare tactic designed to make us buy their product instead.
ooooooh noooo. There was a bit of a to-do about this on KF last summer. The threads might still show up on Google, or maybe someone has it archived? It got - shall we say - passionate.
This has been discussed on this forum before and it seems to me that there really is a radiation problem with some of the cheap granites from China, but not with granites from other countries. Hopefully, one of the stone professionals will chime in as it seems to me that she was the one who said it was a potential problem with Chinese granites.
not me.... not again..... NEVER
And I wouldn't recommend the "Chernobyl" granite. I hear it's a bit on the radioactive side.
I searched for the link (which was included with the 'dangerous' article) which showed that you come into contact with raydon EVERYWHERE. According to the pie chart only a smidge came from building materials and the majority was in the soil and air among other places. Still scared?
this stuff is nonsense - the solid surface industry promotes these scare tactics about granite emiting radiation and harboring bacteria.
pbrisjar- I think you are hitting the nail on the head. I saw this on another forum and someone said "nothing a good thick coat of lead based paint couldn't mask"
pbrisjar, is so right! Follow the money! Because of propaganda, fear keeps dictators in power and crooks in business. I wonder how many businessess are born because of fear.
He who laughs last, laughs the longest.
The rest of the world has been using stone everywhere in the house... kitchens, floors, counters, walls etc for centuries!
Bogus 'research'...If anything, I am cautious about using manmade products that have resins, binders, glues, inhibitors etc.
Well, if granite is radioactive and emits radon, then I guess the crushed stone in quartz could be dangerous, too.
These people should think before they come up with these "studies." Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.
Yes! granite countertops are dangerously beautiful. ;)
I don't know how to italicize, but these are quotes from the article.
"Not all granites emit radon or radiation. There are some that clearly do. There are some that absolutely dont. We dont know," she said.
"Llope found that 92 of those 95 tested granites emitted no radon at all, or very little. But two of them would fill the kitchen with elevated radon levels. And one would release a high level of radon, at the level where the EPA recommends taking action."
So, if these people really cared about our health, wouldn't it be the responsible thing to give a list of the more "dangerous" granite. Plus, the lady in the first quote "clearly" contradicts herself! Bogus is right!
What you all don't understand is Cosentino actually markets & sells their own granite through Lowe's called Sensa. They have millions of dollars at stake & they don't want to be held liable once more of this research is completed & put out into the media.
My company sells all sorts of countertop material including granite & we have a radiation testing devices & let me tell you the instruments go crazy when they are put up to a slab of Bordeaux. We have turned down a $10,000 job because the customer wanted Typhoon Bordeaux & I told her that we'd have to test it first before I would allow it in my shop. We educated her about the dangers of radon & I told her that if she thought we were full of b.s. that there are two good fabricators that I would recommend or she could choose a safer granite or other material. So far its looking like the more expensive granites seem to be "hot" & other granites like St. Cecilia or even Absolute Black are relatively safe.
I cannot in good conscience reccommend Bordeaux for any household with small children or pregnant mothers. Bordeaux as you have seen in the news story is notorious for being "hot". I'm sure more research & stories on granite colors that are radioactive will be coming out soon.
This is from the American Lung Association's website on Radon:
"Radium, which releases radon, is common in the earth's crust. Soils and rocks containing high levels of uranium, such as granite, phosphate, shale and pitchblende are natural sources of radon."
So you are putting material directly from the earth's crust into your kitchen. The earth is a naturally radioactive planet, of course your granite may contain some radioactive particles. It depends upon from where it was quarried & the uranium content of that area. Since the granite industry is unregulated your granite may be coming from Iran or China & you may never know about it.
Test it first!
I think it has to do more with where the stone is quarried, than the stone itself. You can take two lots of any stone, Bordeaux or otherwise, and one might have a problem, and one might not. The same can be said for most natural building materials. That'll be the day I recommend to my customers that they go shopping with a Geiger counter and radon alarm.
Heeeeeeere we go again!!!!!!
Yeah, follow the link to the American Lung Ass'n Radon Page. It says nothing about granite countertops. The closest thing I could find was:
In some unusual situations, radon may be released from home construction materials such as stone used to build fireplaces or solar heating storage systems. End of quote.
And I would add that even if radon is emitted in a handful of situations they don't bother to pinpoint at what level making me believe that it is a minor issue. They focused more on water and the ground. No need to wear a helmet or breathing mask in the kitchen! Of course, this is my own interpretation and keep in mind I was born in an era where I slept in an un-safe crib by today's standards that was probably painted with lead based paint!
oh boy. I used to work for a granite company and the slabs were kept in the same area as the fabrication area which we walked thru all day long with customers. One more health issue to worry about if it's true.
My friend's home was the one featured on the news story. He, in fact, works for Consentino. The results of the radon and radioactivity were true. He ripped out the granite they had (it was an unusual bordeax...very red/coral colored with black chunks). He said that the granites that appear to have the higher emitted levels are those of the same color family (hence, same origin probably). They replaced that granite with other granite.
Just breathing in the dust from fabrication is unhealthy, minus the radon threat. No customers should be walking through those areas without masks.
What a silly debate. One of the things you learn in Geology is that granite is radioactive, we use it in prospecting. How can this debate continue when faced with facts?
Greece was a shallow, oxygen rich sea during most of the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods, and the vast majority of the stone is limestone, not granite. Greek stone houses are made of limestone, not granite. Limestone has very little radioactive content, thus lower cancer rates because of the lack of Radon.
The lady in the video came across as very personable. I felt her quote showed that she had more questions than answers and was looking for the answers. As to the last part of that quote, can any of us say what the question was that she was answering? Could it have been something like "Is all granite dangerous?"
I don't feel that this lady contradicted herself at all.
Does anyone know what the market for quartz countertops is these days? One of the fabricators we visited a couple weeks ago had a nice quartz display in the showroom. When DH and I were comparing some of the colors to granites we'd seen, the fabricator volunteered that the demand for quartz had really dropped off in the last couple of years, but that they continue to offer it because they do get customers who want a look you can't get in natural stone.
I wonder if the Sensa line is an attempt to capture market share that quartz hadn't been successful capturing and if Sensa hasn't been as successful as hoped either. And I say that as person who would totally use quartz if I wanted a super contemporary kitchen.
i am the rice physicist quoted in the article and the story. if you have any questions see http://wjllope.rice.edu/saxumsubluceo/
my additional writeup (PDF) is available there, as is an e-mail address to contact me...
Who was it that asked you to do the research?
"Who was it that asked you to do the research?"
KHOU Channel 11 in Houston....
I am not supported by buildclean, by the granite industry, or its competitors.
I am all about the data...
w j llope-
I have looked at what you posted via your link,
and in my opinion, your findings lack validity
since you will NOT name the stone or stones that
you "claim" to have a high amount of radiation.
This is what I am talking about at the bottom of your page:
"Q: What was the name and country of origin
of the granite you investigated in the story
and in your write-up?
A: I know it, but I am not going to say it."
IF you are SO concerned with the welfare of the
general public, why don't you drop the charade and
NAME what you "claim" is a potential risk - specifically?
This whole issue in my opinion,
is only to further a Pro-Quartz agenda -
regardles of the truth or to the welfare of the consumer.
by the way...........
Have you tested Quartz (which is a component of GRANITE)
for IT'S levels of Radon? I'm sure that you'll
be more than happy to name specifics on THAT...
AND, WHERE is your data on the
Burning and Spread Rates of Engineered Stone for
What kind of FUMES does Engineered Stone/ QUARTZ
GIVE OFF - WHEN IT BURNS?????
FYI: I have been working with GRANITE for 30 YEARS.
I have never had, nor do I suffer from ANY ill efects.
AND - if Granite is SUCH a problem, WHY is it coming into
the public eye ONLY NOW?
Let's see: Granite's been around...how many MILENIA...
and Engineered quartz and Solid Surface - both of which
will burn - have been around a few decades...???
Hmmmmmmmm Very Interesting
Kevin M. Padden
Fabricator, Trainer and Consultant to the Natural Stone Industry
"your findings lack validity
since you will NOT name the stone or stones that
you "claim" to have a high amount of radiation."
as i said - i know exactly what the name of the stone is, as well
as it's country of origin.
read the rest of the comment. i am not interested in causing a panic
about all stones w/ this name when i have studied a sample of
precisely one of these stones.
the validity of the results for this one stone (see my writeup)
"FYI: I have been working with GRANITE for 30 YEARS.
I have never had, nor do I suffer from ANY ill efects."
as i said in my writeup, the risks are very low. so there is
no disagreement there either
sorry cat499, I failed to mention the limestone in Greece. My bad...
Kevin - you are looking for subterfuge on my part that is just not there.
one can very well question buildclean's motivations, but i am not supported by them or anyone else on this topic as a matter of fact.
i am collecting more stones, and will take the gamma spectra from each over the next few weeks. i will certainly present the results on the website. if (as my writeup implies), much much greater than 90% of all granites are low-emitting, then my new results will show that.
i don't have any quartz's available at the moment, but i will look for some and test them as well.
if you can provide some for me to test - i'd be happy to do that. i would return them unharmed...
Another point to bring up is that radon is usually only an issue if it's in a location with very little air flow/ventilation, like basements--at least that's what the company who installed our radon "venting" equipment told us.
If you have decent ventilation & air flow in your home, it's probably not a problem--but if you're concerned...rather than argue about it, I would just get your home tested...it's not that expensive.
(We live in a "high" radon area and our levels were very high when we were tested. So we now have equipment that "vents" it to the outside.)
Kevin - BTW - other people in this thread already recognized from the newscast what was the name of the stone that i studied.....
"officially" i have no comment. unofficially, scroll up.
"Another point to bring up is that radon is usually only an issue if it's in a location with very little air flow/ventilation,"
this is a good comment. my sister lives in michigan and also needed to installed a ventilation system in her basement.
in an enclosed volume containing a radon emanator, the radon reaches its saturation concentration in ~27 days. so opening windows for a half-day every few weeks would mitigate the issue - and this is a good practice anyway.... A study i can point to if anyone is interested measured the radon concentration with and without specific rates of airflow in enclosed living spaces. the effect is dramatic - ventilation drops the radon concentration quickly and efficiently. this works especially well in the houston area (where this story was filmed) as the radon emanation from the soil is "very low" according to the EPA....
Hello Bill. I may have put things together wrong as I go through this thread, but I think I have gathered the following:
You tested a countertop in a real kitchen, and found that the overall radiation measurements were barely above background.
You did find some "hot spots" on that countertop, where in an area of undefined size the readings were significantly higher.
As a result of what you found, the homeowner decided to tear out that countertop, and put in a different granite.
If I got something wrong, please help me by correcting it. If I've got it right, then please comment on whether it makes sense to you to remove the top due to the presence of the "hot spots".
Thanks for your help on these issues.
And to chrismwgl.....welcome back to GW, Carpentershop:-)
"You tested a countertop in a real kitchen, and found that the overall radiation measurements were barely above background."
yes - where barely means 0.1 to 0.2 mrem/hr. the normal
background rate is 0.04 mrem/hr
"You did find some "hot spots" on that countertop, where in an area of undefined size the readings were significantly higher."
the areas were about 5"x5" each. there were 5 of these. in these areas the rate was 3-4 mrem/hr - two orders of magnitude above background.
i also measured the gamma spectrum of these, (see figure 2 of my writeup) and found that the radiation source was predominantly uranium ore, with admixtures of 40-K and 232-Th.
"As a result of what you found, the homeowner decided to tear out that countertop, and put in a different granite."
no. the homeowner had already decided to remove the countertops before i even got involved. this was because he had them professionally tested (i.e. not a home test kit) for radon, which showed 3-4 pCi/L radon concentrations in the kitchen.
my results had nothing to do with the homeowner's decision, although my subsequent result from my gamma spectrum indicating the presence of uranium ore is consistent with the finding of a measurable radon emanation.
BTW 3-4 mrem/hr from the direct radiation in these hotspots is not a negligible rate. i would not my children to be doing there homework there.
i hoped this helps clarifies things... cheers
Once again Dude -
Name the Granite - YOU NAME IT - right here - right now...
RESPOND TO MY POST.....
Just Name it instead of hiding it in some mystery land...
your just a schill in my eyes
as i said before, other people in this thread were able to figure it out.
Thanks, Bill, for the reply. Something really leaped out at me in what you said, and I want to be sure that I get this right:
This top was replaced due to a radon reading in the kitchen that reached a recognized "action level", and the source of this radon was the granite countertop. Are you comfortable asserting that, based on your training and your knowledge of that particular situation?
If so, that would be very significant to me in my evaluation of this whole topic.
Kevin - i couldn't help but notice where you get your support.
i find it somewhat telling that the best response the marble institute can muster to this question is an email from 1995 based on a model in which no information on the assumptions, nor the name of the granite studied (which you seem so focussed on), is presented.
there is a vast amount of information in published peer-reviewed journals. i list many of these in reference 8 of my writeup.
the summary of all of these is that the risk is negligible or very low for the vast majority of the stones. do we diagree on that simple point?
if you'd like to discuss this rationally and free of subterfuge, let's do that. i would enjoy your comments - you clearly have considerable experience in the industry and all of us would benefit from your perspective.
but there's really no place for the name-calling. i am approaching this completely out in the open and free from all ties to the industry or it's competitors.
"This top was replaced due to a radon reading in the kitchen that reached a recognized "action level", and the source of this radon was the granite countertop. Are you comfortable asserting that, based on your training and your knowledge of that particular situation?"
the decision was not mine to make - it was already made.
but i can tell you this. i measured the floor, the cement slab, the wall tiles, the sheetrock, the fireplace, and the external bricks in the same house with a broad-spectrum geiger counter. there was less than 0.1 mrem/hr (solidly background) everywhere.
everywhere, that is, but the countertops.
also, i should point out that the professional radon tester placed his detectors throughout the house. the several in the kitchen were the only ones that gave a radon reading.
Get your facts straight...
Do you see MIA after MY NAME?
Am I presently a member of the MIA?
Am I on their roles as a memberV
Again...... Sigh... NO
Do I get FUNDING from the MIA?
Once Again - Sigh... NO!
Here's the dealio mr rocket scientist -
I am a Fabricator of BOTH Natural
Engineered Stone, abd I have a been for 30 years........
Your agenda is OBVIOUS....
OK - according to YOU - Juparana Bordeaux is the stone
That is THE ONE MATERIAL that
Is a concern.... What are the rest???
Or is Bordeaux the ONLY one?
Once again - this whole issue
Is blown WAY out of porpprtion
By people that twist facts to fit their arguments....
Hopefully - some of the moderators from GW will see the lunacy in your purpose and
ban you like they did
Al the crapenter....
WHO is funding YOU?????
I can only guess....
Thanks for the reply, Bill. As you can see, you've entered what can be a minefield here. I applaud your efforts to keep this discussion civil, and hope you have better success than we have experienced in the past on that score.
The high-enough-to-be-dangerous radon reading that can be traced to a countertop is something I've never seen credibly presented before. I see no reason to discount your report, or disbelieve your credentials as presented. This strikes me as an important, if not explosive, development in the ongoing discussion of this topic that has taken place here (on and off) over the years.
I hope that you'll stick around, and let us know what else you find in your work.
Kevin - you really aren't taking the time to read my posts.
my point about your support simply came from the following text on the top result from a google search of your name.
"Kevin has served as the Marble Institute of Americas "Training Specialist," ...
i understand that you also gather support from other sources.
the bordeaux is the only stone i've studied with it in my hands. i mentioned that i am looking for other samples to test.
i have already stipulated that the majority of the stones described in the literature and in my writeup are perfectly safe. greater than 95%.
with additional samples, i expect that this result will hold up. if you would like to lend me some samples, i would be happy to test them....
i am funded by rice university and the U.S. D.O.E. for research on relativistic heavy-ion collisions the the RHIC facility. my expertise is on particle detection in these collisions. my work on radiation and radon from stone i am doing as a hobby. i am not being supported for this work from any stone industry outfit or its competitors.
i am specifically quoting the results from my direct measurements and the peer-reviewed literature.
i have no agenda here. in fact if you would read my posts, and my writeup, you would see that i specifically state the risk is very low if not negligible in general....
read that sentence again. if i am saying the risk is very low, what could my agenda possibly be.
i named the stone at your request. two other people in this thread also discussed this stone.
i really don't know how else to say this. you will either believe me or you won't. and that's fine. i am not going to lose sleep over this one bit.
if you would like to have a rational discussion about this, feel free to email me. the discussion we are having here is completely pointless. you're intentionally ignoring what i am saying, and lumping me together with others that do, in fact, have agendas.
"I hope that you'll stick around, and let us know what else you find in your work."
i have errands and yard-work to deal with at the moment, but i will check back here occasionally. the results from all future studies that i do will be made available at the site http://wjllope.rice.edu/saxumsubluceo/ ....
check back there in a week or so if you're interested...
Correct me if I am wrong, but I assume he did not want to name the stone simply because only one counter made of that stone had been tested and therefore it is not an indication that all stones of that type would have increased radiation. The TV station probably just wanted to independently verify the claimed test results of the particualar countertop in question. In fact, it may be quite rare for a piece of Juperano Bordeaux to have "hot spots" and much more common for a type of granite that was one of the negative samples in this test, but they just didn't happen to get one of the positive ones. So avoiding that particular type of granite may not help. It is scary to contemplate for those who make their living with granite, but the best way to put this to rest, might be a large independent study that shows which stones or types of stones might have hot spots, or provide routine testing of stones if it could be done cost efficiently, so everyone would know that the stones being put into kitchens do NOT fall into that category. If they had been tested and shown to be safe, the "scare tactics" would loose the ability to scare anyone. A large study might also show that so few stones are effected, that it is negligible, like 1 in 1000 or 1 in 10,000. Quartz should definitely also be tested. But lets be reasonable. If you are worried about radon in your house, I assume you have all already had your houses tested to see if it is already there? If not, getting paranoid about a counter top is silly. Entire buildings have been constructed of granite stone and tested for radon and found to be undetectable or background level or below. A few were shown to be higher. People in homes with elevated radon levels have been advised to ventilate the homes, not remove them. The same for those living in the upper Midwest in areas of know high concentrations of radon from the soil. Mines should be tested for the safety of the workers mining the stone, and that might prevent granite from mines high in radon from being used for countertops as well. Other building materials can also emit radon, like the crushed stone under your driveway and around and under your foundation an in the cement of your foundation, not mention your well water, and if you are worried, those should be tested.
If this is a source of radon in a small percentage of cases, manage those cases. Then promote how safe it is becuase that was done. DEFINATELY test quartz also. DON'T allow funding or management of those studies by ANY industry corporation or professional association and that includes both the stone industry and their competitors.
well said. i found nothing in your post that i disagree with in the least.
re: radiation from existing buildings, here's one link:
see the 8th bullet. this is not the only example though. many buildings on campus here are made from "texas granite" from Marble Falls, TX. i typically get 0.5-0.7 mrem/hour off of this stone all over the place on campus.
i completely agree w/ your suggestion of a broad study by an independent agency. it's the only sensible approach here.
couple other interesting facts. on the television show "Modern Marvels - Weapons of Mass Destruction" the second segment discusses the radiation monitoring at sea ports that is done to search for illicit material that might indicate a dirty bomb. they show an inspector finding a hot spot from the outside of a sea container. he decides to clear the container. he specifically states "granite countertops and floor tiles" as a common radiation-emitting background.
note he did not visually inspect this container.
also, companies such as ortec sell hand held radiation detectors for use by these agencies. a link to one such instrument is here:
scroll to the section "The Problem Described". notice what's listed as the second item on the list of dirty bomb "false positives"?
thanks for the comments... i really need to step away now - will check back soon. take care all, best regards,
Read your article: "Radiation and Radon from Natural Stone" and noticed you referred to "beta rays". Aren't they in fact actually beta PARTICLES (electrons)?
"Aren't they in fact actually beta PARTICLES (electrons)"
They are particles. But they are, at the same time, waves. :-)
(As the man said, if the Quantum Theory makes sense to you, you have not understood it.)
Beta emissions have long been known by the term, "beta rays."
"If you are worried about radon in your house, I assume you have all already had your houses tested to see if it is already there? If not, getting paranoid about a counter top is silly."
Maybe I missed something here, but my understanding is that a house in Houston, TX, where there should be no concern about environmental radon, registered dangerously high levels of radon in a kitchen with a granite countertop. It appears, at least, that the countertop was the source of the radon. If that is in fact the case, then people who have had no reason to be concerned about radon in their homes may need to check it now, if they have a (particular kind of?) granite countertop.
Isn't that the potentially significant issue to develop from all this?
indeed i used the (somewhat antiquated) term "beta rays".... these are electrons and positrons, the charge minus and charge plus states of the same particle, respectively - the lightest lepton. there are three known leptons, the electron, muon, and tau (each existing in positively and negatively charged states, respectively). each member of this lepton family has an associated member (as part of a so-called "weak doublet") that are the electron, muon, and tau neutrinos.
but this is not really relevant to the topic at hand here.
electrons/positrons (a.k.a. betas or beta-rays), alphas (a.k.a. Helium-4 nuclei), and photons (a.k.a. gammas and X-rays, depending on their energy) are examples of the particles emitted when a radioactive nucleus decays naturally.
depending on the decaying nucleus, there can also be neutron emission, as well as fission.
"solarpowered"'s response was perfectly correct.
the aspects of quantum mechanics that are somewhat counter-intuitive (schroedinger's cat, bell's inequality, etc) are fun thought experiments but have nothing to do with this issue really.
the issue here are the gamma's and the gamma's only - the spectrum of which i measured directly from the stone featured in the story. the observed peaks in the measured spectrum are the unambiguous signature of the radionuclide that produced these gammas. these peaks are basically "Caller I.D" for radioactive nuclei. the majority of the peaks are consistent with uranium ore. we can alse see the peaks indicating the presence of 40-K and 232-Th.
only the uranium ore produces the long-lived radon daughter of radium.
this is physics that is older than i am - it is beyond question.
i am looking for other samples to expand the data set.
i am not claiming that all granite is dangerous. quite the contrary!
(but i hope this was already absolutely clear from the comments above.)
take care, cheers,
"Isn't that the potentially significant issue to develop from all this?"
i believe so. radon is a well-known concern "up north" where the geology is such the natural sources of uranium progeny (i.e. radon) has long been recognized even as far up the legislative chain as the EPA. here's a typical graphic:
one can easily find other graphics of this sort.
people in houston, and presumably the other cyan-colored areas of this plot, have likely never heard of the potential dangers of radon, because these dangers are rare from soil-based sources according to this plot and the others like it.
i am not going to claim that the stone countertops that these people might install in their homes is dangerous. you all must be used to these disclaimers by now. i will continue to makes these disclaimers explicitly nonetheless.
i am simply saying that the awareness of the potential dangers of radon in these "cyan" areas must be "low" because there is a relatively low radon danger from the local natural ambient sources. there is thus the potential for people to be caught completely unaware of something that their neighbors "up north" are well aware of...
Bill, I am near Katy TX on the far west side of Houston and you are welcome to come test my granite countertops (which are NOT jup. Bordeaux) but are the pink version of raw silk from India.
In addition, perhaps sweeby would let you come test her granite (she is in the Memorial area).
Thanks very much for your replies, Bill. Do you know what the radon readings are now, in the kitchen where the countertop was changed from one kind of granite to another kind of granite? To be fully accurate, if the following statement is valid and true:
In a real-life kitchen in or near Houston, TX, radon readings were "X". After those readings were obtained by reputable and capable technicians, the granite countertops in that kitchen were changed to a different kind of granite, and all other relevant variables remained constant. After the countertop change, radon readings in the kitchen are "Y"....
I'd really like to know what the values of "X" and "Y" are.
Do you happen to have that data?
Again, thanks for your contributions to this discussion.
Writing from the Granite State (NH), and not knowing better than to join an argument...
Kevin: I think you are mistaking the outward appearance of the scientific method for deliberate coyness, and thereby assuming some hidden agenda. While there are plenty of hidden agendas in the history of science, that history by itself doesn't prove that a hidden agenda exists in any particular case. It is perfectly reasonable to not report on a single sample of anything. Generally, results aren't published until peer reviewed, and corrections suggested where the reviewers believe they are needed. And certainly, a single sample wouldn't qualify for statistically significant data that peer review would accept. Nonetheless, it is well established that many granites naturally contain uranium.
600 rem divided by 4 mrem/hr yields 150,000 hours of lying on the granite to have a 50% probability of dying from direct radiation dosage. (I am taking a liberty here because the 600 rem number applies to immediate dosage, i.e, from nuclear weapon bursts, and may not apply when the body can self repair.) Of course, mutations from radiation can cause cancer at much lower dosages. Still, I think exposure to the radioactive polonium in tobacco smoke would be a greater danger to most people.
I have trouble imagining how, in the GW world of kitchens with ventilation systems sized for serious cooking equipment, any radon buildup would occur in most kitchens. This seems to me to be a bigger problem where granite is used for appearance in kitchens that are not comparably scaled.
In keeping with the better safe than sorry approach, such as keeping lead painted objects away from children who have eclectic tastes, it seems to me that it would be worthwhile to test granite slabs for hot spots (should be done before polishing at the source) to keep them out of residential interior commerce. They might still have utility in other applications.
OK - I admit that I am a FABRICATOR - NOT a science dude...
I will also concede that when somebody starts posting stuff
that has a "nothing but negative" effect on Granite (on other sites)
I get pretty riled up, as Granite has been my livelyhood for
30+ years now, and (FYI) I don't have tumors or a third eye
wanting to pop out of my forehead... (ha!)
wj llope - I think that your data is being twisted by other
people (that have been banned from GW) that have
some incredible penchant for wanting to further
their own agenda
that is aimed at deminishing the demand for Granite, and
increasing the demand for Solid Surface and Engineered
stone... THEY are using your data to further THEIR agenda -
IMHO - Ray Charles could see this in a heart beat.....
Not a dig on you...OK?
I work with BOTH Granite & Engineered Stone -
I just think it's way wrong to "twist" data to suit
one's agenda - not that wj llope is doing this,
but somone ELSE that has his data IS....
Bottom line is this - Granite has been used since before the
time of the Egyptians... People are born, they grow up
and then (hopefully after a full life), they die
- I have not seen an epidemic of deaths atrributable to
I think, to put this all in perspective -
a guy has a better chance of dying -
from having a Block or a Slab of Granite FALLING ON HIM -
than contracting a cancer caused by Radon that "might"
be emitting from Juparana Bordeaux...... (any others?)
In MY opinion, this whole Radon Thing is being twisted
WAY OUT of REALITY.....
Let's get back to why we all like to sign on to GW -
to HELP people - not scare the ba-jesus out of them......
Again - no tumors or third eye here!!!!
Kevin M Padden
FABRICATOR OF GRANITE FOR 23+ YEARS WITH NO HEALTH PROBLEMS,
Trainer, and Consultant to the Natural Stone Industry.
This is, of course, an interesting topic that brushed up against most of us here.
Granted, we "...not seen an epidemic of deaths atrributable to RADON", but we DO have a fairly significant cancer rate, and who's to say what the actual cause of most of those cancers are?
I'm not coming down on either side here, as I believe that there is some truth and validity to both sides, BUT... ;)
Doesn't it make you want to get your stone tested?...lol
Can I buy a radon detector and slap it on my slabs and see if it goes off?...can the home-test kits for radon be used to check our rock?
THAT'S the information that I'd find very interesting and useful :)
In fact, I just ordered a 3-pack of home testing kits, so I can do a before/after :)
I don't think a radon detector would tell you what you want to know. Radon is a gas. If your granite is producing radon, it goes into the air, and diffuses to everywhere in the area. So a radon detector only tells you there is radon in the air, coming from somewhere, but it isn't going to tell you where it's coming from.
Radon is produced by the radioactive decay of radium, which in turn is a product of the radioactive decay of uranium (after several steps). What you want to detect is the radiation produced by that sequence of radioactive decay. The source of that radiation can be pinpointed.
I note that the reason people are more concerned about radon than in the uranium/radium decay sequence is precisely because radon is a gas. Radon gas gets into your lungs, where its radioactive decay damages lung tissues, resulting in lung cancer. Radiation outside you body, while still of possible concern, is less dangerous.
If I understand correctly, Professor Llope is using a gamma ray spectrometer to make his measurements. That tells him where the the radiation is coming from, and also tells him the energy spectrum of that radiation, which tells you what isotopes are producing the radiation.
I'm not sure if a simple Geiger counter would give you the information you're looking for; it might. My hesitation is that they tend to not be very good at detecting gamma radiation. A scintillation counter might be more appropriate.
Perhaps Prof. Llope can comment on readily-available detectors that would work for checking out building materials?
Kevin, You are really way out of line with your nasty responses. Although why anybody would read what you've said is beyond me since it's so wacky sounding unlike your usual posts which seem a lot more thoughtful. As someone who has really high radon levels in my house and just installed a mitigation system I would say first that people should be more aware of this issue in general. Radon is dangerous, it comes from natural soils, and it is highly variable (e.g., from house to house in high radon areas). If you want to see how the radon levels correlate with health impacts, look at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website (it also has information on radon-resistent building methods -- very low cost to install).
What you don't understand Kevin is that the effects of radon are like the effects of cigarette smoking or any other environmental hazard. Of a certain number of people exposed, only some percentage will suffer certain consequences. In other words, 100% of people who smoke do not get lung cancer. And you can't say that one person who gets lung cancer necessarily got it from smoking. (It could have been some other cause.)
Moreover, you have to look for effects in order to find them. If nobody tried to correlate lung cancers with cigarette smoking we wouldn't know there was a connection. Likewise with radon levels and lung cancer. The connection, however, is proven which is why people test their houses for radon, install radon mitigation systems, build radon-resistent houses and additions. If there were a chance that something you brought into your house increased its overall radon level, you might think twice about doing it.
I understand it's a gas. The radon detectors monitor the air in a given space. My intent is to use up 1 or 2 of the detectors now to establish a baseline reading in my kitchen. Then, after the stone is installed, I'll use another detector. If the results are inline with the first two, then I'm comfortable. If they're not, then I'd have someone come measure it professionally.
Cookin Jim, the measurements are not that precise because of changing air flows etc., although I'm not going to suggest that you not proceed as you plan. To give you an example, 4 picocuries is the EPA action level. My measurements came in at 31 in the first test and 41 in the next test. The tests were done by the same lab, same exact conditions (e.g., doors and windows closed), same exact location, about a month apart. (Post mitigation system results are at 0.5.) So, you can expect variability.
A general rule of thumb is that the levels decrease by about 10 for each level in the house. So, a level of 30 in the basement is likely 20 in the main floor and 10 in the upstairs. Not sure that had much to do with granite but whatever!
OK - Apollogies to all for being way more hostile
than was needed in my previous posts on this thread...
especially to you Bill (wj llope) - you've shown a lot more
civility than I did over the last couple of days... Sorry man...
I am not normally anywhere near to being an A-Hole
(as many of the people that visit GW can attest -
I come here to help people - not hassle them)
So.... for letting my Northern Irish Temper & Nature
get the best of me thus far - in this debate.....
my aplologies to all and a promise to keep things civil
on my end from here on out......
Bill I think that we're going to have to agree to disagree
on this topic... I have some research to do myself,
and I will post more stuff later - in the mean
time - I have to work with some more Granite....
I'll check in later when I can...........
(oooooh - is that a Third Eye Popping out on my ARM?????) ha!
Kevin M. Padden
Fabricator, Trainer & Consultant to the Natural Stone Industry
If I'm at 20 BEFORE the granite goes in, then that tells me something else ;)
Basically, for $25 for 3 tests, it's worth it even if the results aren't ultimately precise. $25 for ballpark figures works for me ;)
Kevin: well done and well said.
The fact-- and it is a fact-- that the synthetic countertop industry slanders natural stone using a phoney third party 'advocacy' group is just one reason I won't even consider their product. The immorality of such a campaign proves to me that these are not people with whom I wish to deal.
Yet I have no doubt that there is some basis for their claims. Its like the similar panic they tried to induce over bacteria-- Not at all risky for those with decent hygiene, and not a factor for those without-- but its undeniable that the fissures of natural stone could harbor bacteria.
So yes, some granite gives off radiation, whether its in your kitchen or the ground beneath your feet. Enough to worry about? I very much doubt it, but I'm inclined to go with copper canyon for my island instead of the bordeaux I'd planned.
Nice as it would be if there were some objective comparisons between different types of stone, it might not be possible, given that every slab is different. And if it becomes common knowledge that 'Bordeaux' is potentially problematic, many dealers would just start calling it 'Merlot'...
We're constantly warned about the risks of this and dangers of that, without any kind of numbers to help us understand if the threat is statisticly significant. Plus, many of these 'risks' have offsets: the same UV that ages your skin also helps prevent depression, colon cancer, breast cancer, and multiple sclerosis.
A steak cooked rare over charcoal presents a large number of risks: too much animal fat, free radicals from the charred exterior, potential e. coli from its barely rare interior. A high protein diet increases your risk of kidney disease, a diet high in animal fat increases the risk of certain cancers.
I'll hold back your finger vrjames, if you'll hold back mine.
As cate1337 mentioned, the whole set of issues related to granite as a countertop material was widely discussed here last summer. I participated fully on the side of the skeptics. That "debate" was often rancorous (also with my full participation), and I sure hope that the board can avoid that kind of thing this time. (My "clippings" include a number of the posts from this unfortunate time in our history, for those who are interested.)
Last summer, I never saw anything that looked reasonable and objective to back up the very wide array of claims being made about granite. This topic (radiation/radon) was part of that, and I saw nothing persuasive about it then either. I tend to agree that BuildClean has a credibility problem due to their funding sources, so you have to evaluate everything they say in light of the expected return-on-investment by the folks who give them the money.
BUT, I am very intrigued by the measurements being taken by Dr. Bill Llope of Rice University, a participant on this thread. He claims to be independent of influences in the countertop industry, and I can find no reason to doubt him on that score. I hope that we evaluate his findings in a calm and rational way, whatever they may turn out to be.
When are we having those steaks? I'm in.
Especially since it's another 10days before my counters/sink is in :)
Good Morning all......
let me catch up to some comments in one fell swoop. thanks for
your comments and questions.
barker_tx - i appreciate the offer, but i can't soon come over
to look at your stone... if you have any scraps left over from the
installation, or can obtain them, i would be happy to look at those
revans1 - i don't know if the owners of the home shown in the story
have retested their new stone. i sent at email in that direction
asking about that, but i have not heard back on that yet.
it is an interesting question.
kaseki - i agree with most of your post. the main disagreement
is your use of the dose from a sudden exposure of 600 rem then
converting that to the length of time required to reach that
exposure chronically. the more appropriate guidlines on cancer
risks for chronic exposure are based on chronic exposure doses.
in that case the rule of thumb is an excess cancer rate of
4 people per 10000 per rem. i describe this a little better in
my writeup - check it out...
kevin - the "third eye" comments are perhaps just meant to be
humorous - but this is not really the concern. developmental
irregularities as a result of radiation exposure are possible
if the exposure occurs pre- or neo-natally. the risk of exposure
in adults are an increased cancer rate. and as i have said
several times, these risks are generally low for chronic exposure
to mrem/hr sources. but they are not zero.
the radon issue is indeed generally of very low concern. but
likewise it is also not true that one can ignore the risk for
every possible stone. the stone described in the story and my
writeup is the existence proof that not every single stone being
sold in the US is zero risk. i am certainly not claiming that all
stones are like this one. quite the contrary, my results indicate
the vast majority are quiet. in that sense, i don't really see
why we need to "agree to disagree" - it seems to me that we
are in fact agreeing.
cookin_jim - yes - many hardware stores sell home radon test kits.
you can also find them online.
look for ones that state "meets EPA requirements" and follow
the instructions to the letter. these are typically $20 ballpark.
i would use several in several low-ventilation areas on your stone.
if the test results come back with very low radon, then there
would seem to be little need to pay for more expensive professional
"DO have a fairly significant cancer rate, and who's to say what
the actual cause of most of those cancers are?"... this is
precisely the point. we are talking about a (generally) small
excess risk added together with other risks one is exposed to
over a lifetime. if one has decided that two particular stones
are both beautiful and either would be perfect for their house,
and one is hot and the other isn't, some might select the quieter
one. some might not care. but the information should be made
available in case the person cares. it is not now, and i'm afraid
it is nonsense to completely dismiss the possibility that some
granite from somewhere in the world could be hot.
solarpowered - "I don't think a radon detector would tell you what
you want to know." why not? the DIY ones are typically charcoal
cannisters that trap the ambient air. these are shipped back to
a lab which analyzes it and provides a radon concentration spec
a simple geiger counter will indeed indicate the direct radiation.
in general, for granite, there is a strong correlation between
the radioactivity and the uranium content. uranium begets radon,
most of which is trapped. some is not. the amount that is trapped
depends on the porosity of the stone, which varies widely across
stones. the amount of uranium in the stone also varies widely
from negligible to not negligible (see my link above about
grand central station).
of course, the radiation, if observed, could be coming from an
excess amount of 40-K or 232-Th, neither of which produce the
long-lived radon gas. the risk in that case arises only
from the external radiation exposure.
to know what parent nucleus (K, U, or Th) is releasing the
radioactivity, one needs to take the gamma spectrum. I am in the
process of collecting stones being sold in the US to do precisely
that. i will be posting the results from these stories on my site.
i presume the majority will be quiet, and my results will
show this scientifically if that is the case. the most important
information for each sample besides my gamma spectra are the
trade name for the stone. i am making sure to request this
for all samples that are lent to me.
readily available geiger counters are all over the web. look for
ones that say "alpha beta gamma capable". some are only ~$100. this
is a small price compared to the cost of the stone. but as i've
said, the manufacturers really should be doing this. it would
head off potential future litigation, as well as giving them
a leg up on their competitors by specifically clearing all
stone as "safe for your home". if someone is concerned about
radiation has a choice between two manufacturers, one of which
has measured the stone and the other hasn't - it's clear which
manufacturer that person is going to go with. that is clear
even if both stones are perfectly quiet! for one the information
is made available, for the other the owner won't know and might
fern4 is basically saying this in his(her) post. "The connection,
however, is proven which is why people test their houses for radon,
install radon mitigation systems, build radon-resistent houses and
additions. If there were a chance that something you brought into
your house increased its overall radon level, you might think
twice about doing it."
or you might pick a different stone that you like just as much
but is verifiably quiet.
i hope this helped a little - please feel free to contact me if
you have any questions.... my email address and other information
is available here: http://wjllope.rice.edu/saxumsubluceo/
I always thought the issues discussed here were easily addressed by using a very good sealant on granite countertops.
Is that not the case?
the sealant is intended to keep out liquids from seeping into the porose stone and causing stains. it does not stop gas from escaping, it only limits the amount of liquid that can seep in.
a link to the comments from a company selling a granite sealant that specifically states that the proper sealant does not impede air flow is here:
also the sealant is typically only applied on the top surface of the countertop.
and the sealant does nothing to stop the gamma radiation if there.
This discussion has been intriguing but I usually don't get too concerned about minute risks and like to keep threats in perspective (e.g., more people die falling out of bed than being struck by lightning each year). And while I've got granite throughout the house, I began to realize that I also have it throughout my yard. I live in Granite Bay, CA and my yard is strewn with huge granite outcroppings. Does anyone know if they pose a risk?
see page 47 of this:
apparently, in 10 homes in that zip code, 2 had a greater than 4 pCi/L interior concentration.
if you're concerned pick up a few home radon test kits and measure your home directly.
Take the time to research how 'dangerous' levels were established by our government agencies. Then let's talk about the dangers.
hi Pew1 -
the information on how the EPA estimates the cancer risk from radon exposure can be found here:
the additional details are here:
the information on how the EPA estimates the cancert risk from radiation exposure can be found here:
i do not specifically endorse or deny these results but they are how the regulatory limits were set... i'm just providing the links to the information because you asked....
the EPA is quite clear in stating that there are uncertainties involved, but this is at least the position of this agency.
when i retake my radiation training once per year it's these numbers that i have to restudy, so it's clear that brookhaven national laboratory consents to this view. other labs (FNAL, SLAC, J_LAB etc) all use the same information as well
Speaking of FNAL, and since I recall that you mentioned that your specialty is detectors, perhaps you know the answer to a small mystery--whatever happened to the geodesic dome roof of the bubble chamber build at FNAL? The one that was made of honeycomb panels that used recycled soda cans with the ends cut out for the honeycomb matrix?
Not that it's that important, I've just wondered about it, ever since I noticed that it was gone the last time I was there.
That would be bubble chamber "building", not "build"... ;)
"whatever happened to the geodesic dome roof of the bubble chamber build(ing) at FNAL? "
no idea... i have some colleagues down the hall that i could ask though - if they happen to know i'll pass along the info... cheers,
"revans1 - i don't know if the owners of the home shown in the story
have retested their new stone. i sent at email in that direction
asking about that, but i have not heard back on that yet.
it is an interesting question."
It's more than interesting, I think. If the countertop is now different and the radon readings remain high, then one is led to question whether or not the original countertop contributed to the high readings. If the countertop is the only thing that changed, and the radon readings are now much lower, then one is led to the belief that the countertops caused the high readings in the first place. At least from the radon perspective, it seems to me that we don't really know anything until we know the before AND after radon readings in that kitchen.
"It's more than interesting, I think. "
agreed. and i did understand your point before.
but, to be perfectly clear, i did mention that i found no radiation signature above background off of any other surface in the house (i walked throughout many rooms in the house and its exterior scanning everything - floor tiles, kitchen wall tiles, concrete, bricks, sheetrock, fireplace, etc etc - i was scanning everything basically).... it took quite a while and i suspect the people in the room waiting for me to finish were getting impatient with my thoroughness there!
my broad spectrum geiger counter was absolutely quiet throughout this process. absolutely quiet everywhere but near the granite countertops, that is.
there is not, in my opinion, a defensible reason to claim a surface that emits no radiation could be emitting radon.
as i also said before, the countertops gave a whopping big signal (2 orders of magnitude above background). and the independent professional (not DIY) radon test the homeowners did indicated significant radon concentrations only in the kitchen. negligible elsewhere.
i understand your point, and the question is a good one, and i intend to post back here with any new information that the homeowner is willing to provide to me. but the fact that the observed radiation signature i found was concentrated on the countertops (and nowhere else), and that the gamma spectrum from this countertop unambiguously indicates uranium ore, is certainly guiding the eye here.
let's keep this "dotting the i's, crossing the t's"-type question in mind for sure, but i have to tell you i cannot promise this homeowner will provide this follow-up information. this is their call, not mine.... let's cross our fingers.
but i have to admit the scent is pretty strong as to the location of the culprit.
again, if new information is made available to me on the new granite, new radon readings, whatever, from this home, i will definitely pass it along to this forum!
thanks again for the comments, take care, best regards,
Fair enough, Bill, and thanks for your thorough follow-up. I follow your logic and understand the limitations that you may have in acquiring the information that I'm asking for. In a perfect world, we'd get the results back now for the same radon-detecting protocols that were followed for the "before" readings. But, it's not a perfect world. Too bad, though, because it really would seem to help lock this down (one way or the other.)
One more question, if I may. I understand that you are seeking "samples" of material to study, which I assume will be smaller pieces. Without going into too much detail, how will you account for the fact that it does appear (from the one countertop that you referenced above) that it is possible for a countertop-sized piece of granite to have a few "hot spots" that account for essentially all of the radioactivity? Are you basically assuming a randomness in the quality of the samples that you receive?
Holy crap, not again. And we've got scientist dudes now, LOL. Pass the popcorn Pauline...
"I understand that you are seeking "samples" of material to study, which I assume will be smaller pieces."
yes - these will be smaller pieces. you raise good questions, all of them. but let me make one point a bit clearer which is relevant... i can easily understand why you asked this... but it's not quite the reason i am looking for additional samples.
short answer: at the moment, i'm not talking about a global survey, but existence proofs.
if you will bear with me for a minute, i'll try to make this point clearer. it is rather important...
let me make one thing absolutely clear. i am going to measure gamma spectra from the stones that i am given. i will thus know what the radioactive parent nuclei are (if, in fact, there is any radiation observed in the first place!). if there is no radiation signature, i will certainly make that clear.
i will describe the results scientifically and absolutely free of any bias or preconceived results. this is a promise. if i do not have the scientific integrity that i have spent the last 20 years of my life building up, i have nothing. i am absolutely not going to ruin that now. as i have no ties to the industry or its competitors whatsoever, i have no motivation to ruin my integrity over something that is nothing more than a hobby at the moment.
i will not quote any results from the stones that i study from this point on if i don't know the trade name for these stones and can confirm their availability for use in homes in the U.S.
will these results be representative of all stones being sold in the US?
absolutely not !!
during the KHOU interview, a representative from the marble institute (a Mr. Hogan IIRC) stated that there is no information in the published literature that stones being sold in the US exceed the EPA limits of 4 pCi/L.
this statement is absolutely correct!
if, however, i have well-identified (trade names, country of origin etc) samples that are being sold in the US in my hand, and if these are hot, and i make available the experimental results, then this information that is new and relevant. i would be comfortable with whatever level of scrutiny those results garner, because i am only going to discuss my experimental results.
so again, the direction i am going at the moment is not a global survey. i already believe the majority of stones (and, indeed, specific sections of one stone) are likely quite quiet.
my interest at the moment is to provide additional data on the question that *all* (100%) of the stones being sold in the US are absolutely quiet.
this new data might very well make precisely this point. then again, it might not.
i am going to let the data do the talking here, and then continue to try to reach out to forums like this to put that into context. i really have been spending too much time on this as it is, but if it helps people understand the situation, i am am willing to spend the time. if my intention was to scare people, then i would not still be standing here fielding questions, especially in sometimes rather hostile conditions... this is simply the scientific method at work. we'll all see where this goes together.
Okay, this leads me to ask a couple more questions. Hope I'm not being too tiresome.
First, the "existence proof" issue.......this is a new term to me. Is this an accurate restatement: There is a contention that there exists NO granite or other stone sold for use as a countertop in the USA sufficiently radioactive to create recognized health concern level for radon gas. To disprove this contention, one must find at least ONE such granite or stone, and that's what you're trying to do.
Second, you talk about "stones being sold in the US (that) exceed the EPA limits of 4 pCi/L." Am I right to say that 4 pCi/L is the EPA action level for radon gas in the air in an inhabited space? And that you're measuring radioactivity with a geiger counter? So, you're going to make assumptions like you reference in your paper, about the size of an unventilated kitchen with a certain amount of countertop material, and calculate what the radon level would be at maximum saturation?
I'm just down the road from you on the border of GB and Roseville. I've never heard of radon being an issue here but when I checked our zip code on the site Bill referenced (thanks, Bill, for all the various links), I found that 2 houses had tested >4 pCi/L. I think I'll pick up those radon test kits. My in-laws are in Los Lagos and have a house filled with granite and marble and the yard with the big granite outcroppings. I think I'll pass this info along to them.
In general, countertops in kitchens, in particular, that contain radioactive minerals definitely present a health risk since they are a continuous radiation source. Moreover, in addition to external exposure from penetrating radiation (gamma or high energy beta rays), released radioactive gas (radon) or radioactive minerals leaching from the stone due to spilled liquids like vinegar or other acids might enter your lungs or into food and thus produce internal exposure. While the skin is thick enough to protect body tissue from damage by external alpha radiation, this is not true if alpha emitters get lodged in organs or the blood inside the body. Internal exposure represents a very much larger health risk compared to external exposures. However, it is extremely difficult to make any reliable statements about the magnitude of this risk compared to other environmental risks from chemicals in our food, water, air pollution, etc. There are a few reliable studies of health risks from low level radiation for specific exposure situations: E.g. variations in terrestrial gamma background radiation across the British Isles is definitely correlated with variation in childhood cancer mortality. Or, low-dose exposures (most likely internal exposures) from radioactive fallout from nuclear weapons tests in the US or from the Chernobyl explosions in Europe have been found to be correlated with increases in neo-natal infant mortality. The scarcity of research data is only in small part due to the limits of available scientific research tools. This kind of research requires levels of investment that only large research grants could provide. For over fifty years the political and military/industrial powers have deliberately manipulated the scientific establishment (by holding the research purse strings and carefully selecting scientist-members of official radiation protection bodies, including the UN World Health Organization) to proclaim in hundreds of official reports and mainstream journals and popular magazines that low level radiation is harmless (or may even be beneficial), thus protecting the interests of nuclear weapons and ammunition production, the industrial applications of radiation, but also the medical radiation establishment (radiology and nuclear medicine). This is consistent with what you report about the granite industry.
There has always been a relatively small number of courageous whistle blowers who believe that they have a responsibility to search for the truth and resist corrupting pressures on their sense of scientific integrity. Any independent and critical scientist who challenges the accepted dogma with conflicting evidence (like the above examples about fallout) finds it very difficult to get his research reports published in the mainstream scientific/medical literature, and often has seen his career under assault and sometimes destroyed. These are ugly facts of corruption and they result in workers' and citizens' lives being sacrificed, who remain unable to litigate for compensation because of the intentional absence of scientific evidence and the inherent impossibility to prove cause and effect for any individual victim of radiogenic disease. Open discussion of these matters in the general media would violate a strict taboo.
Gina W and Paulines -- really, what is your problem? If you don't want to read about human health impacts of environmental concerns then don't read it, move on. Why do you feel compelled to put other people down because they are having a discussion that apparently is beyond your level of comprehension or interest level?
I've worked in this field for over three decades and I can assure that michaelscott has it right. If you don't want to protect your own health, that of your family, and others that's fine but don't put down those of us who do care.
hi revans1 -
"Second, you talk about "stones being sold in the US (that) exceed the EPA limits of 4 pCi/L." Am I right to say that 4 pCi/L is the EPA action level for radon gas in the air in an inhabited space?"
yes. see the EPA links i provided to "pew1" as well as my original writeup.
"And that you're measuring radioactivity with a geiger counter?"
as i said, i am also measuring the gamma spectra with a much more detailed setup than a simple geiger counter.. please see my PDF writeup for more details.
regarding new samples, i intend to compare the direct identification of the the parent nuclei from the gamma spectra with the simpler geiger counter measurements. not only that, but i will compare my direct radiation measurements (geiger counter) and the gamma spectra (detailed setup) with equally as directly-measured radon emanation results.
all of this will occur via completely and openly described methodology.
no smoke. no mirrors.
"So, you're going to make assumptions like you reference in your paper, about the size of an unventilated kitchen with a certain amount of countertop material, and calculate what the radon level would be at maximum saturation?"
absolutely not. clearly we're still not quite on the same page here.
as i said much earlier in the thread, those assumptions that you quote were simply made to place the existing literature in some sort of context for a news story. i have already agreed with the marble institute's point that this existing peer-reviewed literature does not imply that those stones are being used in the US.
this effort does however hint at a generic picture that is free from industrial subterfuge, becuase the data came from actual granites and openly described in peer-reviewed journals.. and that picture, at the moment, seems to be that almost all stones are low-risk, and some (very few) are not.
this is not, by any means, the end of the story. nor should it be assumed that these results apply everywhere. the sample size is simply too small to make such a sweeping generalization.
the data i intend to take will stand on its own. the gamma spectra will stand on their own. the radon emanation rates will likewise stand on their own. the correlation of the two for the same stone will stand on their own.
the results and methodology will be made globally available and open for review by anyone.
let's separate the comments that i did for the news story with what i am doing now. i stand by the comments that i made in the news story. but the point i am trying to make is that i am in the process of collecting much more detailed information on this issue than what has been available (for stones being sold for use in kitchens in the US w/ well-identified trade names and origins) to date.
no assumptions. the data will be what the data is. and from there we will proceed.
Thanks again, Bill, for the clarification. What you've laid out here is very intriguing, and I won't bother you with more questions just yet. My lack of science background shows plainly, I'm sure, but this was very helpful.
"My lack of science background shows plainly, I'm sure, "
not at all. your questions throughout this thread have been perfectly reasonable in my opinion. they are the types of questions i would expect any interested person would ask. i am glad i was given the opportunity to field them... and BTW while i did provide some responses, of course i look forward to other's opinions on all of this. this is a discussion, and i am nothing more than a participant...
"but this was very helpful."
i'm very glad to hear that my comments were helpful...
i'll be sure to share any new information i get a.s.a.p.... best regards,
Whoa there fern, I'm not putting anyone down. Just getting a chuckle over finding a Cooking Forum perennial argument still going strong. Some of us can find humor in that, that's all.
I can understand gina w and paulines, and their skepticism about this whole thing. The question has gone 'round and 'round here many times. I do not recall, though, a time when someone with the appropriate instruments and training was actually going to take measurements of countertop material, to see what turns up. I think that's new, and I'm very curious about how it turns out.
Michealscott: are you Professor Rudi H. Nussbaum? If not, did you have his permission to use his words as your own?
luvmyguys, I'm in Los Lagos and just ordered a test kit (see link). It's only $5 and free for two Bay Area counties.
w_j_llope, thanks for the information. One more question: Our house is large (7K sf) and very spread out. Should I order multiple test kits, taking samples in more than one location?
I have been following this post and am interested in your findings. The only thing I am questioning is why you seem to be having trouble obtaining samples to test. During my search for granite I went to several local granite yards and walked out with numerous pieces from each.
Just walk into any granite yard, or fabricator and ask for a few samples. Some have them ready to give, others will chop it right off the corner of the slab of your choice.
i haven't had any trouble finding people to lend me stones - i just don't have them in hand quite yet. i'm sure i'll also call around to local shops for scraps at some point too...
and hi montalvo,
it certainly doesn't hurt to survey multiple areas. depends only on how much you're willing to spend on test kits. i would start near locations with natural stone (fireplace? kitchen? bathrooms?) and if the readings you get back are very low, then there's probably little need to measure in every room. but it's up to you really....
pew1 was not referring to what the EPA pushes as danger amounts. pew1 was talking about how the EPA came to these numbers. Do some research on the scientists who actually set the numbers and, how they came to those numbers. If, for some reason, you ever had any faith in the EPA you may change your thoughts. Then again.....
Thanks for the link! Can't believe the test kit is only $5.00!
"pew1 was talking about how the EPA came to these numbers. "
which is described in detail in that PDF and other sources... yes, these are extrapolations. look, i have no axe to grind here. as i said, i neither endorse or deny those #s.... but, for better or worse, they are what are being assumed by the regulatory agencies when they set safety policies, radiation procedures etc.... if you think their methodology is deficient or misleading - publish!
take care, cheers,
Bill, I'm back with another question. I've tried to find some clarity with search engine queries, but no luck. I'll say what I don't understand, and if you can either clarify or link me to a site that can, I'll appreciate it.
I'm still a little stuck on the reference to "stones being sold in the US (that) exceed the EPA limits of 4 pCi/L". Specifically, I'm not sure what it means to say that the stone exceeds 4 pCi/L. I'm understanding pCi/L to be a measure of the concentration of a particular gas in a certain volume of air. I can see how you could measure the radioactivity of the stone, or the "radon emission rate" of the stone (my term, probably makes little scientific sense), but it would seem to me that the "4 pCi/L" measure would depend at least in part on the size of the container of air that the sample is in. A chunk of hot material big enough to create 4 pCi/L radon level in a shoebox might have a neglible effect on the radon level in my house, and one large enough to create a problem in my house would (it seems to me) probably have a neglible effect on the radon level in the Superdome.
That's the part I'm not able to follow.
yes, pCi/L implies a volume (as well as a surface area of the radon emanator). i am interested in taking the data at a fixed small volume (standard technique)...
one then corrects for the excluded volume, and possibly for back-diffusion.
how that information is then extrapolated to rooms of a certain (larger) size, and how well and how often that air is mixed w/ the air in other rooms, etc etc, are then a question of making additional assumptions. pick a set of assumptions, and you'll get a pCi/L concentration in the assumed room(s)...
but step 1 is still the measurement of the radon concentration as a function of time in a small "test" volume using very standard analysis techniques.
and actually, i'm somewhat more interested in the direct radiation anyway, but every aspect of this should be studied in parallel to give a complete picture...
Bill, thanks for all this information. This is great stuff! I find radiation and geology VERY interesting, not to mention kitchens which is why I'm here. :)
flash407, would you mind contacting me through the "My Page" feature please?
Been reading... okay, so more like skimming this discussion and thought I'd stir the pot with a study just released yesterday on this very topic.
hi housepoor2 - yep - i read that yesterday.
it is great to see that the MIA is finally acknowledging that granite can emit radon!
that email from 1995 they had been quoting to date was so vague as to be almost useless. i think this is an excellent turn of events that will really help everyone understand the issues - as it uses much more recent and much more well-described analyses.
the bordeaux that was studied was quite the emanator indeed! wow.
the paper uses absolutely standard techniques and analyses. it also nicely goes into considerable detail - giving the hard numbers - which is great.
my only concerns are in the last few paragraphs. a few assumptions are made there that i don't think are rigorously correct (perhaps 'always applicable' is a better phrase there) when considering a standard modern home. these thoughts do not invalidate the experimental data, which are solid, but could modify the interpretation of the data a bit. we'll discuss it...
i will post back here a.s.a.p w/ those comments (i am swamped with day job stuff at the moment). but i did want to pop in at least to say how happy i am that all of the various parties are starting to get quantitative.
this will really help everyone understand the situation much better. excellent development. congrats to the MIA et al.
Here's my non-expert take on the study that is on the MIA site:
A scientist studied 13 different granites used for countertops, specifically to measure their radon output. Twelve had readings that were inconsequential, but the Crema Bordeaux samples did have much higher readings.
Assume the following:
A 2000 sf house with 8 ft ceilings (no adjustment for contents)
A kitchen with 13 linear feet of Crema Bordeaux counter (seems small to me)
Air circulation that distributes the radon throughout the home
No exchange of air with outside
In that scenario, the countertop would be expected to raise the radon level of the home by 0.27 pCi/L. The average indoor radon level is 1.3. The EPA suggests that you consider remediation at 2.0, and suggests that you get remediation at 4.0.
Bill, don't leave us hanging.......
In what seems to be a genuine concern of the effects of radon emissions in residential homes. A certain website from a non-profit organization out of Houston has made it a point to imply without scientific proof, that natural stone could be a major contributor of radon in a household.
The allusion that seems to be made, that natural stone installed in your home is dangerous to your health is raised repeatedly on the website and in a recent local Houston TV news program.
Its interesting to note that the two major contributors of this non-profit organization are manufacturers of engineered stone. One of those contributing manufacturers has a marketing executive on the board of directors of this particular organization.
From what may be perceived on the surface as perhaps another 'going green' ad campaign, seems to be a different slant on the ongoing battle of the engineered stone manufacturers against natural stone.
Keep in mind that granite as does most natural components found in building material, allows vapors to pass through them that might contain trace amounts of radon. There are very small amounts of uranium found in trace minerals such as biotite in some natural stones. When quarried if a large cluster of biotite is exposed the result initially would be a radon reading. However, once a piece of granite or natural stone exposed to a large amount of uranium rich mineral in the ground is removed from the source and exposed to the air, the radon vapor transmission would weaken drastically and then dissipate. Simply put, think of natural stone as a very dense sponge that allows water, air and yes radon to pass through the stone. Once the stone is removed from the source of radon (the earth) the stone has no radon to filter through it.
We do endorse Radon testing but to allude that natural stone is a main contributor seems ludicrous.
Here are some facts about Radon:
WHERE DOES RADON COME FROM?
'Radon comes from the natural radioactive decay of radium and uranium found in the soil beneath the house. The amount of radon in the soil depends on complex soil chemistry, which varies from one house to the next. Radon levels in the soil range from a few hundred to several thousands of pCi/L. The amount of radon that escapes from the soil to enter the house depends on the weather, soil porosity, soil moisture, and the suction within the house'.
HOW DOES RADON GET INTO THE HOUSE?
'Houses act like large chimneys. As the air in the house warms, it rises to leak out the attic openings and around the upper floor windows. This creates a small suction at the lowest level of the house, pulling the radon out of the soil and into the house.( Just as natural stone filters radon emission as mentioned before.) You can test this on a cold day by opening a top floor window an inch. You will notice warm air from the house rushing out that opening; yet, if you open a basement window an inch, you will feel the cold outside air rushing in. This suction is what pulls the radon out of the soil and into the house. You might think caulking the cracks and the openings in the basement floor will stop the radon from entering the house. However, scientific studies show, it only takes enough unsealed cracks or pin holes in the caulking to equal a hole 1/2' in diameter to let all the radon in. It is unlikely that caulking the accessible cracks and joints will permanently seal the openings radon needs to enter the house. The radon levels will still likely remain unchanged.
Fortunately, there are other extremely effective means of keeping radon out of your home. Throughout the country, several million people have already tested for radon. Some houses tested as high as 2,000-3,000 pCi/L; yet, there hasn't been one house that could not mitigate to an acceptable level. The difference in reference to natural stone is that one the stone slab is removed from the source and exposed to the atmosphere the radon is vented in the same way ventilation of a house mitigates the radon emissions in the soil.
Levels of radiation from granite products, which technically are measurable, are in fact, small fractional values of established thresholds for environmental safety. The truth of the matter is that granite is a safe product. Its been used for thousands of years and the relationship between granite and radon has been studied for years and years. How safe is granite? There have been mathematical models developed that show that one could live in an all-granite home or building, including sleeping on granite, for an entire year and still be within very safe levels of exposure.
Calculations show that, if an average countertop, traps an average uranium concentration of four ppm (parts per million), the concentration of radon that is given off by the countertop into the household air would be 270,000 times less than the level of radon in the outside air. The maximum contact level that you would receive over one year if you were to sit on a countertop all of the time would be about one quarter of the annual radiation from all sources. If you were just a few inches away from the granite (such as when doing the dishes), the dose would be too low to measure.
To Quote Donald Langmuir, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Geochemistry, Colorado School of Mines, & President, Hydrochem Systems Corp.
'To show how laughable are the concerns of radon emitted from natural stone, the typical granite countertop in our example will release 7.4 x 10 -7 pCi/L of air. This corresponds to 2.7 x 10 -8 atom decays per second (dps). This represents 0.85 decays per year. In other words, less than one atom of radon is produced by the countertop in one year. This is hardly worth getting excited about. I would suggest that a good way to reduce our exposure to the radon present in outdoor air would be to build an air-tight house out of granite countertops! There are certain properties of rocks that can increase their radon emanation efficiency, or in other words increase the release of radon from a given weight of rock. These are rock properties that maximize the exposure of internal or external rock surfaces to water or air, allowing any radon gas to escape. The author of 'Granite and Radon' argues that such properties, which include rock porosity, fissuring and mylonitization, will increase radon releases. This is probably true, however, a granite with such properties would be too brittle to make into a countertop, and too open to take a polish, and so would not be marketable as a countertop - unless the rock pores were first filled with a chemical sealant. Such sealing would also eliminate any possible radon release problems.'
In a more recent study that was conducted by L. L. Chyi, a Ph.D. and professor of Geochemistry and Environmental Geology at The University of Akron, Akron, Ohio. Dr. Chyi studied 13 of the most popular granites used throughout the United States as determined by an industry-wide survey. Due to their popularity these 13 granites, are believed to represent up to 85% of the granite countertop market in recent years. The granite types are as follows:
1. New Venetian Gold, Brazil; medium grained, yellow-beige gneiss with many dark red garnets
2. Uba Tuba, Brazil; A medium- to coarse grained, olive-green granite
3. Santa Cecilia, Brazil; A coarse-grained, yellow-grey gneiss with up to pie-sized, red garnets
4. Tropic Brown, Saudi Arabia; medium-grained, brown granite
5. Absolute Black, India; black basalt
6. Tan Brown, India; A black-brown igneous rock with big, shapeless, brown-red feldspar crystals
7. Giallo Ornamental, Brazil; coarse-grained, brown-yellow granulite with some brown-red garnets
8. Crema Bordeaux, Brazil; Juparana Crema Bordeaux (Brunello). A coarse- to very coarse-grained, pink to red granite with areas of quartz, alkali feldspar and quite a lot of ore
9. Baltic Brown, Finland; brown-black granite
10. Giallo Veneziano, Brazil; medium- to coarse-grained, ochre-yellow to golden-brown, also light pink, gneiss
11. Dakota Mahogany, USA; medium- to coarse-grained, brown-red granite
12. China Black, China, a fine-grained plutonic rock
13. Yellow Star, China, a medium-grained yellow to pink granite
The testing methodology was designed to measure the amount of radon which each granite type would add to the interior of a 2,000 square foot, normally ventilated home with 8 ft ceilings. The results show that Crema Bordeaux (the most active in terms of radon emissions) would contribute a concentration component of less than 0.28 pCi/L, or less than 7% of the EPA's recommended actionable level of 4.0 pCi/L. This radon amount is well below a level which might cause health concerns. Tropic Brown and Baltic Brown, second and third in radon emanation based upon Dr. Chyis testing, amounted to only 1% of this action level. The other granites tested added almost immeasurable amounts of radon to the house. Radon atoms in pore spaces and fractures are of minimal concern in the case of granite countertops
Dr. Chyis test results show that the granites that are currently found in the United States market place are insignificant contributors to radon levels in the home. 'Based on the testing results and EPA standards, we can conclude that the most popular granites used as countertop surfaces pose no health threat to homeowners. If proper resealing is applied once a year or at other frequencies determined by the industry, the radon emanation can be further reduced'.
Daniel J. Steck, Ph.D. also ran a test on interior radon and granite, and this is what he had to say.
'The average radionuclide contents of your building material samples are similar to other average granite samples and other common earth-derived building materials such as brick and soil. Thus, the amount of gamma radiation emitted from similar masses of these building materials will be approximately the same;
There is little sample-to-sample variation in the radon family radionuclide concentrations; the radon flux is somewhat larger for the counter-top squares than for the smaller samples. This indicates that the effective diffusion length is only on the order of the thickness of the counter-top samples, i.e. several centimeters. Thus, material thicker than 5 cm (2') most likely will not emit more than the counter-top samples.
While we feel that health safety is a great concern especially in our homes, for an industry to attempt to gain financially by 'scare tactics' or under the auspices of 'Eco friendly' is reprehensible. We urge the consumer to not be taken in by these alarmist tactics.
Awesome post. :)
We have pictures posted on Flickr captured from our camcorder showing our scintillator readings from a granite slab called Niagara Gold, go to http://www.flickr.com/photos/26528580@N06/. Also we have videos posted on YouTube, just search for granite radiation & you'll see our videos, the name is TCSRock78. This slab of Niagara Gold we discovered is processed in Italy but is quarried in Namibia. Namibia is the 5th largest producer of uranium in the world. Forsys Metals operates a uranium mine that by next year will be producing 7% of the world's yellow cake uranium. The stone quarry is operated by Stone Africa. A US based company called G&L Marble has some ownership in a number of quarries in South Africa & Namibia including Stone Africa. There are 12 international companies with current or pending licenses to open quarries in Namibia, go to http://www.mme.gov.na/pdf/licences-dimension-stones-1007.pdf. Forsys Metals has completed a report on the radioactivity & radiation at the Valencia Uranium mine. Within this report you'll be able to see maps detailing the location & borders of the uranium mine. You'll see how close the uranium mine is to current & pending dimensional stone licenses. You can't tell me that uranium stops at the border of the mine. At least the mining company has regulations to comply with regarding radiation but does the granite quarry & stone processors have to comply with radiation standards?
Also to show that this slab is not unique we measured a slab of Four Seasons granite from Brazil. In one particular spot it read over 800 uR/hr. with our scintillator & 13.1 mR/hr. with our leni & the data logging software. The whole slab averaged about 150 uR/hr. at 6" away. We were told by our supplier of granite that Four Seasons, Bordeaux & Crema Bordeaux all come from the same mountain & are in close proximity to a uranium mine. He is not the supplier of the Niagara Gold. But when we showed him our results of the Four Seasons slab he cancelled an order of a bundle of Four Seasons. He has received support & cooperation from the quarry in Brazil. They will be mapping the locations of uranium mines in relation to stone quarries for him & his customers.
Also we belong to a group of radiation enthusiasts & one of them went by a slab yard in Tacoma, WA and found a slab that was generally reading about 150 - 200 uR/hr. In one spot it read as high as 1030 uR/hr. or 1.03 mR/hr. with his scintillator. The sales person told him that the name of the material is Savannah or Savana & that it was already sold & waiting for installation. I know the location of the slab yard & the location of the slab within the yard (if its still there).
Contact me with any questions or if you want documents supporting all of the above information.
Your post does not address anything directly relative to radon measurements in the average home, or other issues:
There are very small amounts of uranium found in trace minerals such as biotite in some natural stones. When quarried if a large cluster of biotite is exposed the result initially would be a radon reading. However, once a piece of granite or natural stone exposed to a large amount of uranium rich mineral in the ground is removed from the source and exposed to the air, the radon vapor transmission would weaken drastically and then dissipate. Simply put, think of natural stone as a very dense sponge that allows water, air and yes radon to pass through the stone. Once the stone is removed from the source of radon (the earth) the stone has no radon to filter through it.
The testing methodology was designed to measure the amount of radon which each granite type would add to the interior of a 2,000 square foot, normally ventilated home with 8 ft ceilings. The results show that Crema Bordeaux (the most active in terms of radon emissions) would contribute a concentration component of less than 0.28 pCi/L, or less than 7% of the EPA's recommended actionable level of 4.0 pCi/L. This radon amount is well below a level which might cause health concerns.
Going over a piece of stone with a geiger counter may be fun, but it is a long way from evidence of being a major cause of unhealthy radon levels in a typical home, with normal ventilation, especially over time with no continued exposure to the source of the radon in the earth.
Did I mention radon? No. This is about Ionizing Radiation. Which no one has looked into until Dr. Llope expressed concern.
These exotic granites that are relatively new on the market are as a result of the high demand for unique stones. No research is shown to be conducted on the radiation levels of these new on the market stones.
This is not about radon, this is Ionizing radiation. Look it up! Did you even bother to read the radiation report from the uranium company? They describe ionizing radiation rather well. You cannot get rid of radiation even if you extract the stone from the ground, it's still there.
The current federal and state regulations limit workers' doses to 5 rem/year; the limit for an unborn child of a female radiation worker is 0.5 rem/year (500 mR/year); the limit for the general public is 0.1 rem/year (100 mR/year), with provisions for a limit of 0.5 rem/year under special circumstances.
We were measuring over 7.5 & 13.1 mR/hr. If you spend 2 hours a day in your kitchen & let's say you go on vacation during the year so only 350 days of the year you'd be exposed to 5250 mR/year or 5.25 rem/year for the Niagara Gold slab. If you had the Four Seasons slab in your home it would be 9170 mR/year or 9.17 rem/year. And I realize that these are the hot spots on the granite but I'm sure there are many hot spots in kitchen counters all across America. Fabricators probably never even think to cut them out. We wouldn't have until we got measuring devices to measure radiation.
First of all, you are correct, I did not pay attention to the type of radiation, but yes I did look at the report, it talks about a number of different types of radiation, including radon, which was not a problem. Your post does not say who you are, what your background is, who if anyone you get funding from, it does not show any direct study related to the mining of granite for countertops, and no, not many people are willing to makes leaps of faith about your conclusions related to things are geographically close but not directly studied.
Give your name, background, the reason for what you are doing and more than hot spots in a single stone, and see what people here that know more than I do about radiation say about it.
This is from that report:
"5.1. Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials in the Environment
The human population is continuously exposed to ionising radiation arising from naturally occurring radioactive materials, i.e. uranium (U), thorium (Th) and potassium
(40K) and their associated decay chains. These radioactive materials are found throughout the environment, i.e. in air, soil, many types of mineral deposits, dust, ground and surface waters. The levels of radioactive materials and ionising radiation will vary with time and location across the world. All living organisms accumulate these radioactive materials in their cells and organs through the ingestion of water and food."
The report is NOT on the granite mines producing countertops. Radiation can vary greatly in a small area, hence the phrase "hot spots".
Dr.Llope that I can see has not reported evidence of large amts of ionizing radiation creating dangerous exposure from the stones he has studied so far, nor does he make conclusions about stones "nearby" to what he has information on that he has not directly tested.
This from one of he posts above:
"i am specifically quoting the results from my direct measurements and the peer-reviewed literature." You go much further than that with little backup and the study you cited is not a peer reviewed scientic study of any kind but an analysis of a proposed mine that is not intended to produce countertops.
"...in fact if you would read my posts, and my writeup, you would see that i specifically state the risk is very low if not negligible in general...." that also from Dr. Llope.
As opposed your post...
One more point I forgot to ask about. How is it that you only report on the stones that measured high and not how many stones were checked before finding one that was high.
"one of them went by a slab yard in Tacoma, WA and found a [singular, meaning one] slab that was generally reading about 150 - 200 uR/hr. In one spot it read as high as 1030 uR/hr. or 1.03 mR/hr. with his scintillator."
Does that mean that out of an entire granite yard that person only found a single slab of concern? How many other slabs from the area did NOT register any problem with radiation?
Sorry, love to ferrett out junk science from good science but I have a wood floor that is not going to lay iteself!
I've been following this thread with interest since we have not yet chosen our counter top. Someone correct me if I'm wrong but it seems as though there are two separate but related issues being referred to. One is the possible (stress on possible) emission of radon gas from granite. The science shows that at high enough levels, radon does increase the risk for lung cancer. The second issue is ionizing radiation produced by radioactive decay of uranium and other radioactive elements that may (or may not) naturally occur in granite. Ionizing radiation can damage DNA, so also carries an increased cancer risk. Both seem to be dose-dependent.
The question is -how many granites actually produce either radon or ionizing radiation. It sounds like the risk is pretty low and most granites are perfectly safe for home installation. Is this because not all granites contain radioactive elements? I don't know. But I don't consider it a "leap of faith" to conclude that the risk of getting "hot" granite is probably much higher when it is quarried in an area rich in uranium. Apparently, there are a few unlucky homeowners who are getting granite with radioactive hot spots. I wouldn't want to be the homeowner getting either the Four Seasons or Niagara Gold slabs referred to by chrismwgl.
Why doesn't the granite industry just test the slabs to be sold for residential use? It doesn't seem like a super hi-tech, expensive thing to do (but perhaps I'm wrong?). Then retail stores can advertise the slabs they sell as perfectly safe. All this talk has not really changed my plans to install granite in my own kitchen. But I did order a home radon test kit when I discovered (through a link posted by Bill Llope) that 2 homes in my zip code had tested at unsafe radon levels. And I would also be more likely to purchase granite from a dealer who was receptive to questions and knowledgeable about this topic. Defensiveness somehow strikes me as trying to hide something.
i have some comments on the Chyi paper, but let me concentrate on aspects of this issue raised in recent posts here in this thread...
"Its interesting to note that the two major contributors of
this non-profit organization are manufacturers of engineered stone."
i am not supported by buildclean, and could care less what their
motives are. i was asked by KHOU for an independent scientific
opinion, and that has been what i have been working on.
"However, once a piece of
granite or natural stone exposed to a large amount of uranium rich
mineral in the ground is removed from the source and exposed to the
air, the radon vapor transmission would weaken drastically and then
you're assuming that their is no uranium ore in the stone itself.
this is incorrect.
"The testing methodology was designed to measure the amount of radon
which each granite type would add to the interior of a 2,000 square
foot, normally ventilated home with 8 ft ceilings."
the "normally ventilated" part there cannot possibly be true. 6 ACH
constantly? people up north would freeze to death in the wintertime.
(but i should stop commenting on the Chyi paper because i intend
to comment on that specifically later)...
"If proper resealing is applied once a year or at other
frequencies determined by the industry, the radon emanation can be
the proper sealant is permeable to air. see link above. the underside
of the stone is unsealed.
"Daniel J. Steck, Ph.D. also ran a test on interior
radon and granite, and this is what he had to say. 'The average
radionuclide contents of your building material samples are similar to
other average granite samples and other common earth-derived building
materials such as brick and soil. Thus, the amount of gamma radiation
emitted from similar masses of these building materials will be
approximately the same;"
it would be nice to see a link for this comment - i have been talking
with professor steck myself. as far as i know, he is commenting only
on the stones he has looked at. i have looked at stones that are
quite a bit hotter than background (factor of >100). these
are being sold for use in the US.
sue_ct in response to chrismwgl
"Your post does not address anything directly relative to radon
measurements in the average home"
that is only partially correct. indeed the geiger counter is
measuring the direct radiation. direct radiation is a health risk
(i'll come back to this later in this post).
also, the majority of the radiation emitted from the stone i've
studied is from
the U-238 series. this series results in the long-lived radon.
so measuring a significant direct radiation rate with a geiger
counter is not completely irrelevant as you claim. is such a
measurement directly convertable into a radon emanation rate?
absolutely not (for many reasons that depend on the stone
and the geiger counter). but stones that are quiet to a geiger counter
likewise cannot be emitting radon.
stones that are very hot according to a geiger counter are
of interest for two reasons. one, they are very hot, and direct
radiation is a health concern. two, they are potentially radon
emanators. geiger counters are useful for simple assessments
of the radiation. to make more specific statements, one needs
an energy-resolved measurement of the radiation (what i am
now concentrating on for stones being sold in the US), as well
as a radon emanation measurement of the kind prof. chyi did.
"The current federal and state regulations limit workers' doses to 5
rem/year; the limit for an unborn child of a female radiation worker
is 0.5 rem/year (500 mR/year); the limit for the general public is 0.1
rem/year (100 mR/year), with provisions for a limit of 0.5 rem/year
under special circumstances."
this brings up a very important point.
the radiation levels are set for workers and the general
"workers" (i am a perfect example) are trained every year on the
risks from radiation exposure and accept this risk becuase they
are doing research at laboratories for which radiation is present.
i.e. there is a net benefit from this exposure, the net
benefit being the basic science benefitting amankind that these
workers are able to accomplish. each worker is regularly retested
on the health risks and chooses on his or her own whether to
accept those risks based on their own assessment of the net benefit.
the "net benefit" to the general public of radiation exposure at
a national laboratory (for example the tours we regularly give
to students that visit on the weekends) is zero. there
is no net benefit from exposing people to radiation that are unaware
of the risks involved when they are only on a tour of the lab.
that is the reason the limits for untrained workers is 100 mrem/year.
there is no net benefit, and there is no agreement (implicit or explicit)
on these people's part that being exposed to radiation is O.K. with them.
do you see where i'm going here?
if someone has located two stones that they like equally, and one is "hot"
and the other isn't - there is no net benefit from that person selecting the hot stone. the problem is that this information is not provided
to the consumer in the first place. indeed, the industry goes to great
length to swear the risk is exactly zero.
this statement is too strong.
it's usually correct. it is certainly not universally correct.
"Your post does not say who you are, what your background is,
who if anyone you get funding from, it does not show any direct study
related to the mining of granite for countertops, and no, not many
people are willing to makes leaps of faith about your conclusions
related to things are geographically close but not directly studied."
but all of my results will come with such gravitas. i am unsupported
by the industry or its competitors. i will describe all experimental
techniques and results in complete and open scientific detail.
i will also publish.
"Dr.Llope that I can see
has not reported evidence of large amts of ionizing radiation creating
dangerous exposure from the stones he has studied so far, nor does he
make conclusions about stones "nearby" to what he has information on
that he has not directly tested."
just wait. i am taking data on this issue every day. when i have a body
of results, you will hear about them.
the activity of some stones is hundreds of times above background.
i am also measuring the energy-resolved gamma spectra, which
indicate the relative contributions of the 40-K, U ore, and 232-Th
series for each stone separately.
all of these stones are being sold in the US with well-identified
trade names and quarries of origin.
""...in fact if you would read my
posts, and my writeup, you would see that i specifically state the
risk is very low if not negligible in general...." that also from Dr.
Llope. As opposed your post... "
i stand by that statement, but you're missing the basic point here.
the industry would have you believe the risk is only that from
background sources for 100% stones being sold in the US.
by showing that there exist stones being sold in the US with
radiation rates several orders of magnitude above background,
one calls this blanket statement into question.
i.e. to disprove a theory, a scientist only needs to show verifiable
defensible scientific examples of where that theory fails utterly.
"How is it that you only report
on the stones that measured high and not how many stones
were checked before finding one that was high."
see my comment above. no one here is saying all granite
is dangerous. quite the contrary. we are collecting evidence
that disproves the statement that all granite is perfectly safe.
"The question is -how many
granites actually produce either radon or ionizing radiation. It
sounds like the risk is pretty low and most granites are perfectly
safe for home installation. Is this because not all granites contain
basically yes. some granites contain very little radioactive elements.
i have a piece of "Barre Gray" from the rock of ages quarry that
is absolutely quiet. i have stated many times here (and in the writeup
based on the published literature) that most stones are quiet.
some are not. very much not.
i have a piece of bordeaux that makes my geiger counter go
ballistic. and i have measured the predominance of uranium
ore from the gamma spectrum i took from that stone.
"But I don't consider it a "leap of
faith" to conclude that the risk of getting "hot" granite is probably
much higher when it is quarried in an area rich in uranium."
look at the locations of certain granite quarries. see a uranium
it's not unheard of!!!! (brazil, namibia, etc etc)
"Why doesn't the granite industry just test the slabs to be
sold for residential use?"
this is the $64,000 question. if i was selling stone, you can bet
your tookus that i would be measuring the activity of the product
i sell. do you think i'd want to risk future litigation when i could
just as well sell someone a quiet stone that they like just as much?
it makes no sense to me that any dealer would willingly do that,
but o.k. - i'm not part of this industry - i admit.
"And I would also be more likely to purchase granite from
a dealer who was receptive to questions and knowledgeable about this
topic. Defensiveness somehow strikes me as trying to hide something."
take care all... cheers,
let me add one comment - it's about one of the most beautifully simple
experiments that changed the world that i know of.
please don't misunderstand the following - i am
certainly not equating myself with the giants of science that i mention below.
but there is a point here that is relevant.
so bear with me for a moment, if only to learn about what i think is
about the coolest picture someone ever took with a camera!
sir isaac newton took the first data on what "gravity" meant in practical
terms to us in everyday life. he measured the rate by which objects fell
to the ground and determined a relationship between the mass of the
object that was falling and it's acceleration due to gravity.
he needed to invent calculus (which every college student now studies
in their first year of college) to do it, but, hey, newton was one smart
cookie. he made a huge number of other contributions as well.
i would love to have met him.
the "law" of gravity that he came up with stated that the acceleration
of an object due to gravity was a function of that object's mass,
and the mass of the earth (the bigger thing that was providing the
acceleration field) and some constants, which included "basic"
constants (9.8 m/s/s) plus the mass of the earth and the square
of the radius of the two objects.
this was in 1687.
for over three hundred years, this was the "law" of gravity. it described
everyday processes, the motion of planets, etc etc...
ask any expert of the time, and they'd say it's proven over and over
again. stop worrying about it!
then this guy called Einstein came along and said that this theory,
while generally applicable to objects launched into the air on earth,
was not generally correct.. he claimed that there were cases where
this theory broke down, and hence that this theory was not
you can imagine that physicists, and indeed the general public, had
a very hard time accepting this nutty idea.
this theory was hundreds of years old for gosh sakes, and had been
tested in labs all over the earth over and over and over again.
einstein was saying that very very heavy objects not only have gravity,
but they in fact warp space-time.
"warp space-time?!?! what the heck is this guy talking about?!?"
the establishment said. the public could only rely on the opinion
of the establishment.
einstein was saying that very heavy objects can even bend photons.
photons have no mass. this was as far from sensible in
newton's picture as one could possibly be!
Sir Arthur Eddington provided precisely one data point that
proved the supposition.
eddington was not trying to prove newton's theory of gravity was
nonsense for most of the cases in which we encounter gravity.
he was simply trying to show experimentally that if there is an
exception to the prevailing theory, then that theory is incomplete.
(you can use just as well use "incorrect" if you'd like here - that is
effectively the same statement scientifically)
so, he travelled to the island of Principe off of africa to photograph
the sun during the total eclipse of May 29, 1919.
during this eclipse, the majority of the sun's light was blocked
by the moon, and using filters on his camera, he could reliably
measure the relative positions of known stars to good accuracy.
the stars "moved" when the light coming from them passed close
to the sun on their way to the earth.
see the section "Relativity"
this was a spectacular and undebatable defense of einstein's new
theory, that frankly shook the physics community to its core. it
was reported in newspapers all over the world.
that one photograph was enough to say the prevailing
theory was not generally correct.
the point therefore is finding the exception(s) to the "rule" that
makes the "rule" not a "rule" anymore.
i am taking photographs myself. i call them gamma spectra.
these are from natural stones being sold for use in the US with
well-identified trade names and quarries of origin.
i will make available all results and will stand by to discuss them
openly and without rancor.
just like eddington, i intend to publish too. just a hobby for me
mind you, but i am using every bit as much of the scientific
method as eddington did.
Bill, it's good to have you back. I appreciate the scientific approach to falsification (Popper, if I recall correctly), and am intrigued to see what you find.
I do offer one thought, and I hope that you take this in the spirit in which it is intended. This is an online forum for people who are remodeling their kitchens. While knowing that you found one or two or twenty granite slabs that were sufficiently "hot" to meet some definition of hazardous would be interesting, the really useful information would be to answer the question "Is the granite that I want (or that I already had installed) one of the few that is troublesome?". I realize that you can't answer that specific question for any particular poster here, but I think it will be greatly appreciated if you can offer practical and realistic options for people who have that question.
Bill, did I misunderstand, or were you addressing comments I made directly in response to chrismwgl's post, and mistakenly thinking I was addressing your posts? I did quote your previous posts, but I did not take issue with your studies or the claims you have made, merely contrasted them with those in chrismwgl's post, which I felt was unsupported by the level of evidence he presented, and which he made without providing any information on his own background or possible biases. (Run on sentences are an challenge I have not yet conquered.) His knowledge of who owned the mines and boundaries, the presentation of what appears to be a privately funded assessment of a mine operation rather than scientific findings, and the tone I picked up from his post pointing us to U-tube and flickr recordings from a camcorder, was one sensationalism and political or other bias, not science. I respect science. I HATE sensationalism, politicizing of science, or the use of scare tactics to make a buck.
FYI, I have no ties to any industry other than health care. I do have a background of working behind the scenes of the litigation and research fields in which various parties supported, conducted, twisted, and profited from research to make a buck. Make claims not supported by your research and I just may call you on it, no matter who you are.
That is if the mood strikes me. I don't like to get too embroiled for too long any more. Bad for the blood pressure, you know. :)
i think there's still somewhat of a disconnect here.... i hope you will
take the following comments in the simple sense they are given. i am only
trying to help wade through a complicated subject. i look forward to
whatever you have to say from this point on, and will respond as best
as i can.
"Make claims not supported by your research and I just may call you on it,
no matter who you are."
i completely agree. this is how the scientific method works. any scientist
fully expects to be "called out" for anything, and in fact they welcome
the debate. scientists quote their data for peer-review (i.e. this forum, or
journals), and then they respond to the comments. a discussion ensues.
but the base assumption at the start is that all experimental results are
worthy of consideration, and the subsequent discussion begins with
everyone initially agreeing to take all new data at face value.
during the course of any such discussion, it might
turn out that any particular set of experimental results might suffer from
large uncertainties, or large backgrounds, or some other effect that (negatively)
weights the conclusions drawn from these results.
in this case, the original experimenter either improves the quality of
his or her data, or not. either way, all results are still relevant, because
they are actual measurements. higher precision measurements will, on
balance, carry more weight obviously.
but when there is no reason
to assume a priori that a specific data set is flawed, every
measurement carries precisely as much weight as any other data set,
and is precisely as worthy of consideration.
this too is the scientific method.
looking over the recent parts of this thread, you seem to dismiss chrismwgl's
comments for several reasons. you appear to be claiming that chrismwgl
is being sensationalist, or politicizing, or practicing scare tactics.
but frankly i don't see from anything typed in this thread that this
has actually happened. chrismwgl quoted results from a
geiger counter. this is a measurement.
one can question numerous aspects of this measurement (distance
between stone and detector? what detector manufacturer?
how was detector calibrated? etc etc etc).
but that's not what you did - you could have - and that would have
advanced the discussion. you instead assumed subterfuge, and questioned
qualifications, and, it appears, dismissed the result simply because
you did not know who chrismwgl was.
friend to friend - this is not how the scientific method works.
and given no reason to believe otherwise, there is no valid reason
to initially ignore new data. frankly, if you are going to openly dismiss
actual measurements, you should make comments that specifically
point out the deficiency of the new measurement.
and you should certainly quote your qualifications that
lend whatever weight that is available to your comments.
it's only fair. this too is just another aspect of the scientific method.
so, overall, let's please stop assuming subterfuge when there is not
necessarily a reason to do so. i too was accused of the same
in this thread - the accusation was both completely wrong and
completely a waste of time. no one reading this thread learns
anything from generic unbased accusations of this kind.
let's focus on what we know, and what we don't know,
and let's work together to try to figure out how to learn
more about what we don't know.
" Forsys Metals operates a uranium mine that by next year will be producing 7% of the world's yellow cake uranium. The stone quarry is operated by Stone Africa. A US based company called G&L Marble has some ownership in a number of quarries in South Africa & Namibia including Stone Africa. There are 12 international companies with current or pending licenses to open quarries in Namibia, go to http://www.mme.gov.na/pdf/licences-dimension-stones-1007.pdf. Forsys Metals has completed a report on the radioactivity & radiation at the Valencia Uranium mine. Within this report you'll be able to see maps detailing the location & borders of the uranium mine. You'll see how close the uranium mine is to current & pending dimensional stone licenses. YOU CANT TELL ME that uranium stops at the border of the mine. At least the mining company has regulations to comply with regarding radiation but does the granite quarry & stone processors have to comply with radiation standards?"
Science needs to be unbiased. None of the above has any bearing on the readings done. I believe it demonstrate a political or other motive to the readings taken. Motive and bias are always significant in research. It can and has lead people to skew data, discount data that did not fit their agenda and interpret data in a way that supports preconceived ideas. Science, actual readings included, needs to be put into perspective by those reading them if the those that offer them can't or won't. Conclusions about the readings need to be questioned and not just accepted. Many if not most people never think about what they are NOT being told, and that is how misinformation is spread.
Neither stone measured was reported to have come from the mine discussed in the report that was linked to in the original post. No information was provided about the number of stones tested to find two that were alarming enough to present here in that post. Does that mean the readings of those two stones are false? No. Do they have ANYTHING to do with a proposed mine in Nambia? There is certainly no information presented indicating that they do.
There is a difference between having a belief, then going out looking for anything you can find to support that belief, then only presenting the findings that do support your belief, and asking a question and then devising and conducting a study with an open mind to find the answer.
"It is raining and today is Tuesday, therefore on Tuesdays it rains" Not a very far jump, right? Also wrong. Many assumed relationships have turned out upon closer inspection to not be related at all. My issue is not with the poster presenting readings taken on 2 stones. My issues are with the rest of the post, which is the greatest portion of the post. If you are upset about mines in Nambia processing stone that you think might contain radioactive material, TEST THE STONE FROM NAMBIA. Testing a stone slab from CHINA that is meant to be used as a countertop and then pointing to a "proposed" mine in NAMBIA that is not going to mine stone for countertops, but implying that it provides evidence of anything about a third place in Nambia that DOES mine stone for countertops, with no data to support it is not science.
Many scientific findings its turns out can never be reproduced by other scientists. Methodology, equipment, user error and bias are only some of possible reasons, but the reasons are not always discovered. Yes, the publishers of those findings sometimes have reputations put into question. Some researchers have also made conclusions that stretch beyond the actual data presented, and sometimes it is while they are being paid high sums of money by laywers or corporations who stand to benefit from it. They tend to have thier reputations in the research community questioned, and I think that is as it should be.
AGAIN, bias is important, and we have no idea if the readings taken on those stones could be reproduced or not. If you or anyone wants your findings to be accepted and respected, they will have to be verifiable and reproducible as well, and you might even keep and label the stones so others can test them if need be. That is often done in medical research and carries a lot of weight.
The poster would have gotten a much different response if he/she had posted saying, I tested "x" number of stones from xyz origins, located in xyz places, and one showed this result. A friend tested xyz and also found one that showed a similar result."
There is and has been a campaign by competitors of commercial products, countertops in the current situation, to stop people from using the competitors products for their own financial gain, citing pseudo science and using scare tactics. It has the potential to cause serious and unnecessary financial harm to others. So far, at least, I am happy to say this has not gone over well on the forum and I hope it never does.
Anyone presenting "scientific" findings on kitchen forum does so with some motivation, and that motivation probably will be questioned. If the poster in question wants his/her data accepted at face value he/she should submit the data to a peer review journal and see how it stands up to scrutiny. If he/she wants it to be accepted here, they should submit the FULL data and let the readers decide the significance or relationship to their own situation. They are fully capable of doing so.
Chriswngl is just remarking that the uranium mines and the stone quarrys are in close proximity. She (I think ) even provides a link to a govt website, perhaps this african govt is in on the scam? I think what she says is very relevant, that apparently a uranium mine must comply with safety regulations but a stone quarry does not.
You say that ChrisWgl has not connected the stone tested to Africa, but she has. On thursday, may 22nd, she mentions where the stone comes from, and provided a raft of info, including flicker pictures and youtube videos so you could see for yourself! She is saying that she tested the stone from the nambian mine and one from a brazillian mine. I saw no mention of any chinese stone tested.
You also take her to task for not reporting on the number of safe stones she has found. I might be blond, but I can tell you that I could care less which ones are safe. I want to know which are potentially dangerous.
Sue, we are blessed to have Dr. Llope and the others here answering questions and wish you would not attack them as you do. Why such anger?
I re read what I had posted and I did see one mistake I made. There are so many mines in central Namibia that I got the mine wrong. It is actually Rossing Uranium mine & I google mapped it & posted the screen shot on my Flikr, KitDsigner. Also when I realized I was looking at the wrong mine I went to Rossing Uranium's website & found a report where they indicate they intend to expand the current operation to keep up with rising prices & rising demand of uranium.
Sue, you really need to do more research on this before you post. That's what most consumers would do before they made a decision. The only location for Niagara Gold is the Stone Africa Quarry in Namibia, the one on google maps so conveniently close to Rossing Uranium. According to the Marble Institute, G&L Marble only has interest in the one quarry in Namibia. http://www.marble-institute.com/membership/newsletters/sept2007electronicnews.htm#328885.
Go to G&L Marble's website & there you'll see Niagara Gold. If you want another video showing high readings from another Niagara Gold I'll post it after Monday. If you want verification from another source that the mine shown on Google maps is indeed Stone Africa I'll post that link on Tuesday as well. I found a short story from a truck driver in which he described in great detail about the location of Stone Africa & it's relation to the uranium mine. I'll post it on Tuesday when I get back to my office & my history file.
This isn't fear mongering unless Sue, you're afraid of something. You make it seem like only scientists can report their findings. If this is true than most dangerous chemicals or unsafe working conditions would never be known to the public. Consumer's groups & whistleblowers at workplaces have made homes & workplaces safer.
I am far from biased. I love granite, I think some are quite breathtaking & I would reccommend & help choose a beautiful granite for any of my customers. But I couldn't live with myself if I had sold an unsafe granite to someone.
More people should know about this because they don't know radiation is there until its measured with an instrument.
rebccah990, I have read Sue's posts and can't find any evidence that she is angry. She's skeptical, but that's not the same thing.
Revans is correct. I am not angry, but yes I am skeptical. I am sorry, my brain lost that statement you made, chrismwgl, that the Niagra gold was mined in Namibia. It through me off that your photo was labeled granite made in Italy. I just picked China out of the air trying to make the point that testing a stone from ANYWHERE that is not from the mine in Namibia you are talking about means little. I believe I have mentioned where my skepticism comes from.
One example of why the specifics are so important. How many slabs of Niagara Gold were there that day? Was there more than one? Did you test any others that were there? Did they all show the same readings? Are there any other types of granite from the same mine and so they all show increased readings? Do all samples of granite taken from mines near uranium mines show increased readings? If not, then the conclusions that it was because they were from the mine near a uranium mine would not necessarily be true. It may be that a small but random percentage of granites have increased radiation levels and it may be that some stones no where near uranium mines also will have a small percentage with high readings. In that case, mapping or avoiding mines near uranium mines would not be productive. It might also give a false sense of security to someone who makes sure the granite they get comes from a mine that is not near any uranium mines.
I honestly don't claim to know a lot about radiation. I know very little actually other than brief conversations I had a number of years ago with a medical researcher from Yale who was still doing follow up studies on the survivors, children, grandchildren and subsequent residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. So I respect the effects it can have but don't deny my lack of knowledge about the different types of radiation or anything else. But you don't have to be knowledgeable about radiation to see that not all the pertinent information was being provided to evaluate the significance of your findings, and wonder why.
You can also have a lot of knowledge about radiation and little knowledge about research, statistics and probability, or other areas that are just as important to drawing conclusions from a set of data.
I am very familiar with misinformation campaigns and we already know that they have been tried in this arena and on this topic in the past. I also know sometimes well meaning people jump to erroneous conclusions and then pass on that information. I can't evaluate the source here because no source or real context for the information was provided. I always feel more skeptical of information that comes from anonymous sources.
I am all for safety and research. I just want it to be done responsibly so workers as well as consumers of granite countertops and other products are safe, but those whose livings depend on it are not hurt unfairly, either.
If it would be fairer to put your findings in the context of "Hey, I like to test things for radiation as a hobby. I tested 100 slabs of granite and 998 were negative, but two were whoppinly positive and they happen to be mined near uranium mines. I wonder if there is a connection?" Please just say so. If you consider your finding to be more significant than that, please provide some further background and context. That is all I am asking.
You brought to mind the researcher from Yale I mentioned. I am told he is retired now, and I haven't spoken to him in a number of years, but I did Google him and radiation to see what would come up. I don't have the full paper but it is a continuation of his research that I knew about, and it appears that they believe that the increase in lung cancers from uranium miners (which were in THIS country, by the way) were a result of radon and not other forms of radiation. I haven't wished for my old job back very often, but I would certainly love to be able mention this thread to him, ask him what kind of countertop he has and his thoughts on the issue. I am sure it would be interesting and highly educational.
But anyway, maybe someone wants to see if there are granite mines near the uranium mines in this country, that it would be interesting to test the slabs from.
By the way, if you have smoked 2 packs per day for 40 or 50 years, it might not be your granite countertops that end up giving you lung cancer. :) But if you want to eliminate any possible cause, again, geta radon test kit.
If it came to his attention, maybe he would be interested in the issue as a "hobby" in his retirement. :) I am sure he could put together a very reputable study about the health effects of granite countertops. He would never accept funding from parties who stood to benefit from the research, though, I am sure.
I'd like to join the others that are wondering about your motivations as well. Especially since you seem to have switched screen names from Sue ct to ct kitchen remodel.
I found your attack on Dr. Llope and the others to be uncivil at best. Perhaps an apology is in order?
Welcome to the forum, brian.nickleson. First post ever, right?
I didn't mean it as an attack. I am skeptical as I said. I am in the medical profession, and have explained my skepticism on this issue, I think. I am sorry if they offended you or the posters. I find asking for more information not usually to be offensive, though. They are the same questions I asked about research in the past, directly to those conducting it, and had a very good working relationship with those researchers for years. It was routine when contacting a researcher about about his/her findings, to determine if they had any ties to industries effected by the study. It would not invalidate the findings or prevent them being relied upon as long as the study was designed well, conducted impartially, and interpreted the same way. But we always put those connections out there front and center when using the findings, to avoid any suggestion of hidden bias. Why is asking how many stones were tested, or how many if any of a similar type were negative? It is usually only people not familiar with the type of scrutiny and critical analysis research undergoes that take offense to those types of questions. They are not unusual, I assure you. I am a nurse and I have some background in working with researchers and evaluating studies, as well as experience with seeing how misleading a little information out of context can be. I have said who I am and what my background is, and so has Dr. Llope and Kevin. If someone has a connection to either the Solid Surface or Natural Stone industries, most are upfront about it, and if there is no affiliation, most, myself included, are usually pretty upfront about that, also.
I switched screen name for one post because I wanted to be able to show someone the responses, if I got any, without having that person bring up all my previous posts. The reason is that the person has done some work for me and I would not want any complaints I may have vented about concerning the renovation process to come up and hurt that persons feelings, esp. since they have overall tried their best to a do good job for me. (But has added tax to the entire job, labor included, which the local tax codes do not seem to support to me. It is an honest mistake I am absolutely sure, if it is one.) I botched that by forgetting to re-sign in under my usual screen name before posting again. Not so brainy, but not so suspicious either. Thanks for asking though, since others probably wondered also, if you did. You can confirm that just by searching the forum, or all the Garden Web forums, or the entire internet for that matter, for that screen name. Those are the only posts you will find. Nothing that I would need to hide.
If you have questions about my motivations I am happy to answer them.
I noticed that you just registered. Care to tell us about yourself? Have any other screen names in the past we might know you by? By the way, belated Happy Birthday. :)
Oh crap, did it again. Like I said, not too brainy. My computer remembers the screen name and signs me in automatically. I will have to delete that screen name one so it doesn't keep happening, I guess.
Sue, don't sweat it. Several of these 'sky is falling' posters are ss fabricators and/or have support from Dupont. This thread should have been called, 'Follow the money'.
Sue, welcome back to your real identity:-)
Good things these folks weren't around last summer and fall, when people actually DID get angry about this topic.
How long do you think it will take before someone decides this thread is not going the way they would like and complains and it disappears?
Somehow, some people elicit the same type of responses no matter what name they post under. His feelings didn't used to be hurt so easily. Really no offense intended, but watch that camcorder tape again, rather unusual hands for a woman.
Who has that popcorn? (A little levity?)
And here's the thing. I am now persuaded that the question of whether or not there are at least SOME potentially unsafe (from a radon and/or radiation standpoint) granite slabs being installed today is at least worthy of pursuit. Last year, I was a total skeptic, and I retain what I hope is a healthy level of skepticism. But, I'm very open to realistic measurements taken by qualified people, and to realistic interpretations of those measurements that qualified people may be prepared to make. I don't particularly care who it is, but if some disinterested party is willing to do that work, I sure would be interested in what they have to say.
Oh! Such arguing, such stress, also not good for your health.
Question: If I am interested in purchasing granite, can I have a color sample tested OR do I have to test the actual slab I am purchasing? Thanks!
I'll offer my opinion, as a consumer non-expert observer who has never had a granite countertop.
Right now, if I were shopping for one, I'd test the slab. I do think that info may develop to suggest that some colors (maybe lots of colors) are always okay. But, right now, my course of action would be to check the slab that I picked. (As long as I'm offering opinions so far outside my expertise, I'll offer this one too....you probably have about a 95% chance of finding out that your granite has no issue at all).
I agree with Revans, except it is hard to know who has ties to the counter top industry if they refuse to reveal it or say who they are, or if as the lady on TV did, simply refuse to discuss where they get their funding. Obviously the new station who did the original report considering significant as well.
There really has been no research presented that gives any credible way of determining in advance which of the slabs may have these "hot spots". I would also recommend, again, testing your house for radon before installing the countertop, also. Although radon is more frequently a problem in some areas of the country than others, I am not aware of any that are immune. If you are going to go to measures to make sure you don't get one of what may be a very small percentage of slabs with high readings, it makes sense to make sure you don't already have elevated levels for other reasons. Remember most radon enters the home through the soil. If you are concerned about it I believe it has been said the test is only 5 or 10 dollars.
It's amazing that all these so called "skeptics" have not called for the natural stone industry to do testing & labeling. You leave it up to competitors or consumers?
Shouldn't the granite industry be held responsible for the material they place on the market?
Since Sue wants to know my biography, here it is:
My name is Christina Weigel. I was born in Tracy, Ca. in 1978. I have 2 sisters & 1 brother. I have 7 nieces & nephews whom I love dearly. I moved to Oklahoma in 1998.
I am a kitchen designer/office manager/sales. I work in a small custom cabinet shop which also fabricates a variety of countertops but its only a fraction of our sales. Our primary focus is on cabinets. But we decided to pick up countertop fabrication because we didn't like waiting for several weeks for the countertops to be installed by other shops. We began fabricating solid surface countertops then ventured into granite & quartz. We definitely like solid surface better than granite or quartz because whatever our employees do it can be repaired. Granite & quartz cannot be easily repaired so we must rely on very skilled fabricators.
My personal favorite material so far is soapstone.
I or the shop I work for receives no funding from any countertop industry or company. We barely get by with the revenue that comes in. Any spare time that I have is committed to this matter now that I have seen with my own eyes that there are some granites that are dangerous.
If we wanted to attack the stone market we'd say that the cheap granites are radioactive. But unfortunately its looking like the opposite is true, its the exotic ones under suspicion. It scares the bejezus out of me to think about what may be in a consumer's home right now under their nose without their knowledge. Now that I know I must do.
I will not rest until this goes national or the stone industry tests & labels their granite.
Christina is holding back on us folks. She's Al's (carpentershop) wife/biz partner. Al was banned from gw for his obnoxious, inflammatory, anti-granite rants. It seems the mark-up for ss is waaaay better than the mark-up on stone...follow the $$$ signs guys.
I am truly sorry to hear that you are barely getting buy. It makes it hard to comprehend, though that profit was not a motive in getting into countertop fabrication rather than the wait time. Most business exist for the purpose of turning a profit.
It is obviously easier to install solid surface as a business owner, since as you said, employee mistakes can be fixed and you don't have to eat the cost of the stone if fabricator makes a mistake. That also makes it more profitable. Very skilled fabricators required by granite are also probably more expensive, decreasing profit. If you went back to my first few posts, you would see I did say it would be a good idea to test all of them. But NOT by those who stand to gain financially from disparaging granite or quartz. Financial gain can come in a variety of ways. If paulines is misinformed, please elaborate. You have a Geiger counter obviously, do you test and label your stones and assure customers that many are very safe, or just do your best to convince them to use solid surface? Only you know the real answer to that and I don't expect you to necessarily be honest about it with us.
I never asked for unrelated personal information, like how many sisters or brothers you have. Interesting that IF Carptentershop is your husband he is the one you neglected to mention in your family. IF Carpentershop is your husband/business partner, he made it clear before he got kicked off here that felt forced to offer granite due to customer demand, and grudgingly. He also made it clear that he tried his best to stear customers away from granite at all, regardless of Geiger counter readings. So if you happen to feel the same, no I don't consider you an unbiased source of testing results on granite.
Yep, Christina definately works with/for Al. As for being his wife, it's not really relevant. What does matter is the attempted deception that continues to be perpetrated under the guise of a public health threat.
If you throw enough mud at something, eventually a bit will stick. Al has informed us that stone counters are subject to/most probably will fail (anyone recall the sink rodding thread?); are unsanitary (lots of hoopla over that one); radioactive; and release radon gas, among other things. Keep in mind, that the man continues to sell and profit (albeit at a lower profit margin than ss) off this material.
So, now we are to believe that Al & Christina (with not an iota of scientific background/experience between them), roam the stone yards with geiger counter (or whatever the radon detection machine is called) in hand, putting their seal of approval on our choice of material?
I think Dr. Llope's study is a worthwhile one and I don't discount the possibility that there may be a slight number of slabs that aren't suitable for our homes. But to anyone reading this thread, separate the true expert from the posters who imo may have made a poor biz decision (bought into ss fab instead of stone fab) and benefit monetarily by getting into a mud fight.
Question: Does "ss" stand for soapstone?
I'm a relatively new GW member and wasn't around for the whole "carpentershop" thing. Without that background, it's meaningless to me if Christina is Al's wife or Al's business partner. Besides, Christina's opinion in and of itself will not convince me one way or another. I prefer to hear all sides and draw my own conclusion.
sue_ct- You've made a lot of good points about the importance of skepticism when it comes to research. I just think it is important to be skeptical but with an open mind.
At this point, I'm convinced that at least a few granites do emit radioactivity and/or radon. I'm no expert but from what I've read, I would think that these few granites potentially (please note I said potentially) pose a health threat which might impact some unlucky families who don't know they have a hot slab. These people probably wouldn't have related health problems until years down the road. So far down the road, they couldn't even connect it to the granite they had in the kitchen/bathroom. To illustrate this idea, we have a friend who died of mesothelioma- a cancer that is very closely linked to asbestos exposure. He likely had a significant exposure at some point in his life but he didn't know when or what the source could have been. This is the same kind of deal in my mind. Some granites appear to be radioactive- I want to know that the one I put in my kitchen is not. It seems that the stone industry does have a responsibility here, but I bet they will resist because testing and labeling costs money. Plus, they will have to dispose of hot slabs, which may be some of the more expensive (and probably more profitable) ones. As an earlier poster said, follow the $$$.
BTW, I have no hidden agenda. I am a stay-at-home mom spending way, way too many hours on my kitchen remodel and GW. I am undecided on my countertops but have not eliminated granite based on this info (though I am tempted to buy my own handheld Geiger counter when I go look at slabs - LOL). I'm very grateful I found this site because I've learned so much here. It's been invaluable.
One final dumb question- how do you make italics and colored font on here?
"ss" is "solid surface" in this case, like Corian. (In other circumstances it is "stainless steel", and in others it could be soapstone....to many uses for one abbreviation, I think:-)
My bona fides: I completed a kitchen remodel last year, and spent a good bit of time here doing research and bouncing ideas off folks. Most of my threads are gone, but my kitchen is in the FKB. We went with Corian for both budget and aesthetic reasons for our contemporary kitchen, but strongly considered granite (and really wanted Alkemi, but couldn't afford it.) I'm in the insurance business, with absolutely no financial connection to any part of the kitchen industry at all.
I endorse your approach here, luvmyguys. I was here for the last go-round with all of this, and I don't recall it fondly. The bottom line for me now is that there does appear to be a legitimate unanswered question, and we should try to find a legitimate answer, without unnecessary reference to past history or other extraneous matters.
I wasn't planning on coming back here after hearing what a couple of posters had said about me & my business but I do need to clarify one thing...
Al & I are very blessed, we have many things to be thankful for. My statement about "barely getting by" was a bit of an overstatement. We are neither impoverished nor wealthy. We run our business with a customer's best interests in mind & heart everyday we open the doors. We spend a lot of $ on the materials going into a cabinet, we spend more $ on our employees, believing that they shouldn't have to work multiple jobs to feed their families & that since we demand perfection for our customers they should be compensated for this demand. And we spend $ on improving our business so that our customers will continue to have high quality cabinets built exclusively for them at an incredible value.
What I find stunning is that a couple of posters here were responsible for shouting down talk about this subject last year. Al was banned & so they were nearly banned as well. Again they shout down talk about this subject, why they do is beyond me. A couple of them fight like they own the business that's responsible for the Namibian stone imports. Is there a financial stake involved or is it personal?
What also I find stunning is their hypocrisy. They take what the MIA tells consumers as scripture. Everything that the MIA can manage to put out including research that's not peer reviewed they believe & espouse. Yet when the MIA is called into question the questioners are attacked viciously as only interested in $. And I suppose the MIA is a charitable organization?
I've got a stunning slab of Four Seasons that will go perfect with your stunning hypocrisy. I'd love to see it in Pauline's kitchen.
I've noticed Dr. LLope hasn't come back. The duo has managed to run him off. It's a shame.
In the end we'll see who is right on this subject. When the larger media & the government get involved & customers come forward with dangerous countertops we'll see then if the duo continue to shout & deny. Since last year when they managed to shut down talk about this, how many dangerous countertops were sold? How many are they responsible for?
Noone is shouting here. Long-time posters are providing a healthy dose of skepticism and rational questioning of any potentially highly inflammatory information being put in the middle of our placid forum here. And looking into the background of the posters who post such info is fair game and necessary to get closer to truths. That's all.
People don't get banned easily here. They are not banned for disagreeing or posting information. They are banned when they are rude, trollish and attack others.
I don't understand why some folks think their posting here in this tiny little place is going to stem the widely popular tide of granite use in this country.
That train has left the station folks. Don't be bitter, don't throw flames. Move on for goodness sakes.
i have been working with granite for a long time now and i have never heard of anyone getting cancer from granite!! thats just funny,and retarted!! MAN MADE CORIAN, GOD MADE GRANITE, WHO DO YOU TRUST??????????????