Radon Newsflash 2008

All in One Home Inspection, LLC
Clients For Life

Granite Counterops and Radon

All in One Home Inspection Newsflash

Granite Countertops and Radon 
 

Granite counterrop

If you have been watching the news this past week, you may have heard something about granite countertops and radon. With so many different opinions floating around, we would like to take the time to explain to you what the buzz is all about.  

What is radon? A short review. Radon is a radioactive gas that comes from the breakdown of naturally occurring uranium in soil and rock. It is invisible, odorless and tasteless, and can only be detected by specialized tests. Radon enters homes through openings that are in contact with the ground, such as cracks in the foundation, small openings around pipes, and sump pits. Radon and its decay products release radioactive energy that can damage lung tissue. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States; it is the leading cause for non-smokers. More…
Granite is a natural mineral formed by the earth’s geology. It is mined and used to produce commercial products such as countertops. It is possible for any granite sample to contain varying concentrations of uranium that can produce radon gas.
There are two ways in which countertops, tiles, and other finishes made of granite might emit any level of radiation. The first is by release of tiny amounts of the radioactive gas radon which can be inhaled; the second is by direct radiation from the surface itself to the homeowner. In both cases, the radiation emitted is from the same process: natural radioactive decay of one element into another. According to the Marble Institute of America in Cleveland, OH, the risk to the home-owner from radioactivity emitted from a granite countertop or tiles appears to be practically non-existent compared to other radiation sources in the home and outside. The Marble Institute goes on to say that the maximum contact radiation level that you would receive over one year, if you were to sit on the countertop all the time, would only be about one quarter of the annual radiation dose from all typical indoor and outdoor sources. More…

 Test protocol Radoncan
If you’re still concerned about your granite countertops, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJ-DEP) has recommended a test protocol to test granite countertops for radon emissions. The test involves setting up two radon canisters to measure radon levels. The first radon canister will be place in the basement, like the usual radon test, the second radon canister will be placed in a room adjacent to the kitchen. More…
How does the NJ-DEP quantify acceptable safe radon test results? All radon tests should typically be below 4.0 pCi/L. The basement/lowest livable area should have the highest radon concentration and the canister in the room adjacent to the kitchen should be equal to or less than the basement level. High kitchen area readings ( higher than the basement) could indicate a potential granite countertop problem.
Let us know if we can help minimize your concerns over granite countertops in your present home or during your next home purchase. We trust this information helps keep you informed about the safety of your home.

For More Information:

NJ DEP – Regulations around radon
Marble Institute of America – Information about granite countertops and radon

EPA – General information about radon
New York Times – The article that started the radon buzz
CBS News – A short video and article

All in One Home Inspection, LLC
Joseph Fleming III, PE
Owner/ Home Inspector

201-263-0040 
Cell: 201-543-9923

All in One Home Inspection, LLC
Mike Hoyt
Home Inspector

201-263-0040
Cell: 201-838-7017 

 

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