Question

My daughter and I are considering granite countertops for each of our homes. As a cancer survivor, is this a good choice for us?

Answer

Susan Davis

Answered by Susan Davis

Mountain View, CA

Spectrum Fine Homes, Inc.

February 26, 2010

It sounds like you are concerned about the possibility of radiation leaking from the granite countertops due to radon gas being present in the stone. There was quite a scare a few months ago after an article appeared in the New York Times about a high level of radon detected in a home and traced to the granite countertop in the kitchen.

The EPA responded to this concern by stating, “at this time EPA believes that the existing data is insufficient to conclude that the types of granite commonly used in countertops are significantly increasing indoor radon levels. While radiation levels are not typically high, measurement of specific samples may reveal higher than expected levels on a case-by-case basis.”

If you absolutely have to have granite countertops, and are concerned about the radon gas levels of the stone you’ve picked, you can purchase a radon testing kit online. If the radon level measures 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L), choose another stone.

But why not choose another, greener, solid surface countertop material? There are many options for green countertops.

Consider one of the quartz-stone products like Caesar Stone or EuroStone. These engineered stones are much more durable than natural stone, and even have some choices made from post-industrial and post-consumer waste, and many color options. Both are environmentally responsible companies in terms of their mission and operations.

There are several beautiful, very green, solid surface materials manufactured in the United States. (Less of an embodied carbon footprint than when a product is manufactured overseas.) A few of the lesser-known but exciting options are Iguanacrete, Bottlestone, Squak Mountain Stone, Fuez, and Earthcrete by Sonoma Cast Stone. These are all West Coast manufacturers. Other options are IceStone, Enviroglas, and Eco by Cosentino.

A note about radon: High radon levels inside the home can be a real threat to your health. Radon gas present in the soil can enter the home through the foundation, and can also be in the water. It is important to know whether your home is in an area where radon gas levels are high enough to be a concern, and to test the indoor air to see if the gas is present at a level of 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L). A qualified green building professional will know how to easily mitigate the situation if there are high levels of radon gas present.

Tagged In: home air quality, stone

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