People love granite countertops, but some may worry that it will emit radon – a colorless, odorless radioactive gas that comes from the natural decomposition of rocks and natural stones.
So are granite tiles a real risk? Here are some common questions about radon and the risks of granite.
Why is radon an opportunity with granite?
Like all stones, granite can contain naturally occurring radioactive substances such as radium, uranium and thorium. Some pieces of granite may contain more of these elements than others. These radioactive substances are solids, but over time they can decompose in radon, says the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Is the radon content of granite countertops harmful?
Because granite is not very porous and large amounts of it are not usually used in most single-family homes, radon will not likely fly in a sufficient amount to cause problems, says Brian Hanson, a National Radon Program Specialist Services at Kansas State University. In addition, kitchens, bathrooms and other rooms containing granite can usually be ventilated, which can reduce the risks, he says.
Robert Emery, DrPH, Vice President of Security, Health, Environment and Risk Management at the University of Texas, Health Science Center agrees. "From published scientific literature, it seems that the amount of radon from granite countertops is small. The decision to use it or tear it down if it is already in a house you buy really makes a personal decision about which products you bring with you in your home ̵
A greater risk of radon exposure comes from radon derived from soil during a soil and radon in well water, Hanson says
OK, so the risk of granite is "small". But how common is radon in US homes overall?
The EPA says that about one of the 15 homes across the country, whether new or old, has elevated radon levels. Radon coming from the soil is the main cause of radon problems, says EPA. The gas goes up from the ground and into your home through cracks and other holes and gaps in the foundation.
What is a safe against uncertain radon level?
All houses have a certain radon level. The national average for indoor radon levels is 1.3 picocuries per liter (pCi / L), says EPA. The agency also recommends all homes that test at or above 4 pCi / L install a reduction system to help lower the levels. Testing is the only way to know which radon level your home has.
What does a radon sample mean?
The test is simple when it comes to measuring your home air. According to the EPA, you can purchase a self-catering equipment by contacting state-owned radon program representatives, at a home delivery store or through the National Radon Program Services at Kansas State University.
Testing your granite countertops for radon is usually more expensive, as it requires more sophisticated equipment and expertise from a qualified radon reduction expert, who still cannot specify the percentage of indoor radon that can be attributed to granite. You can find a professional by accessing the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologist's website.
Besides being concerned about your family's health, you might want to know your radon level if you plan to sell, as most buyers want low-level evidence or may request a test.
How expensive is radon control?
If a home contains a high radon, the cost of mitigating the land may be $ 1,500, but treatment of well water is higher – about $ 2,000 or so, says Hanson. EPA has some tips on how to find entrepreneurs to help fix your home.
What safeguards should I take if I build a new home?
Make sure a builder uses radon-resistant new construction, says EPA, which includes sealing of openings, cracks and cracks in a concrete base and walls to prevent radon and other soil gases from entering. Installing a vent pipe from the gravel layer through the home and roof can also help to vent gases. If the house's water supply comes from a well, filtration systems can be installed, says Emery. Don't rely on geological maps that indicate radon zones, which can be outdated – get a radon test done, he says.
Similarly, EPA recommends that radon zone maps should not be used to determine if a home is being tested. Home with raised radon levels is found throughout the country, the agency says, and all homes should be tested.
What if I still have problems?
EPA offers a comprehensive list of information sources. You can also contact the Radon Hotline run by Kansas State University by calling 1-800-SOS Radon (767-7236).
Whether installing new granite countertops or buying a new home radon testing is an easy way to confirm that the levels in your home are safe.
Originally published January 1, 2017.