Is it really possible to get a radon-free granite counter?

Question

Is it really possible to get a radon-free granite counter?

Asked by Michelle

I love the look of granite but hate the fact it contains radon. If it is not possible to get radon-free granite are there other materials for counters similar to granite in appearance and durability?

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Answers

Molly McCabe, AKBD, CGP, CAPS's picture

Dear Michelle,

To the best of my knowledge, yes it is possible to get aradon free granite countertop.

  • However, figuring outwhich one in your local stone slab yard will be 100%radon free will be the tough part because two slabscoming out of the same quarry can have completelydifferent levels of radon.
  • That is, one can have none andthe other could have some.

Please note that radon isa naturally occurring odorless, tasteless radioactivegas in our environment. A known carcinogen, itbecomes harmful to humans when it is found in highconcentrations in unventilated areas occupied by people.A common place could be in the basement of a homewhere by the radon is leaching out of the soil and into ahome.

Testing for radon

There are radon kits that you can purchase at your bigbox retailer.

In order to get an accurate reading onthe slab of your choice you will need to "tent" the entireslab with the kit installed inside the tent and leave itthere for at least 48 hours to get a proper reading - notvery practical.

EPA says there's little health threat

Based on studies/statements released byboth the US Environmental Protection Agency (here)andthe Marble Institute of America (here),it has been concluded that granite poses little if anyhealth threat, due to its radon content, to the averageperson - there are always exceptions.

  • You should bemuch more concerned about the sealants that are usedin the fabrication of quarried stone products due to theirhigh volatile organic compound content.
  • To find out more about radon contact your state radonoffice or local American Lung Association for moreinformation on where to purchase a test kit.

Consider a quartz countertop

An alternative countertop choice with equal or betterdurability and lower maintenance requirements thangranite is engineered stone also called quartz.

  • Quartz hasa more uniform appearance than quarried stones butthere are some new colors/patterns out there that do agreat job of mimicking quarried stone.
  • There are severalmanufacturers of quartz products but note that mostof them are overseas.
  • Quartz products do not requiresealing by your fabricator or period resealing during thelife of the countertop.

Good luck!