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Green Homes

Building for the future, today – combining the best of historical wisdom and modern technology.


Is Natural Stone Safe?

Stone is one of the most natural building materials available. It’s also durable. Certainly, it’s a green choice — if it’s not shipped a long distance. So why should you carefully consider your options before purchasing a granite countertop? In some instances, the granite emits radioactive waves. Read What’s Lurking in Your Countertop? to learn more.

What’s your recommendation for the greenest, safest countertop? What about the lowest cost? Share your response in the comments section below.

al gerhart
2/14/2009 9:45:05 PM

Zack, you are confusing normal levels of uranium in country rock with the types of stone causing the problem. Some of these exotic stones are above nuclear fuel source, way above, so they will produce Radon up to three levels of magnitude over the normal bedrock granite (1,000 times more). Going by color is not a safe guide, neither is going by radiation levels which we once thought would keep us out of harms way. And no, the material is worth far more as a granite slab selling for hundreds even thousands of dollars rather than being crushed and processed for fuel. Source grade is anything over .05% or one twentieth of one percent. Are you willing to sell .05% of a product or 100% of a product? Smoke alarms don't product radaon, they can't, different isotope entirely. The source in a fire detector is so small compared to several tons of granite in a home. And petrified wood? Now you are saying you would be worried about a product that is "close" to the nuclear fuel source level but a product three times that? For more info go to our forum where we post the latest testing results and info on the controversy. forum.solidsurfacealliance.org


zack casey
8/13/2008 12:58:13 AM

I am a geologist and I have to say that, after reading the story from the NY Times, it seems pretty sensational to me. The level of radioactive elements in granite is generally so low it would be very difficult to build up ANY real amount of radon in your house. Couple that with the fact that any radon that IS generated would then be dispersed throughout your house, and at least partially released from your house by ventilation or normal traffic in and out of your house and you can see that the build up of radon to unsafe levels would be highly unlikely. If you're worried about it go with a darker (black) stone (Gabbro or Basalt), or a lighter stone (white granite, Marble, etc) or simply don't cover every surface of your house in granite and you should be perfectly safe. To tell the truth, it seems highly unlikely that a quarry would even produce granite countertops that have high enough levels of radiation to be considered dangerous, seeing as they could make a lot more money as a uranium mine, and they do have geologists on hand to check these things out. If you're worried about radiation in your house, I would start by worrying about your smoke alarms first. The one natural stone that I would be potentially concerned about having in my house would be petrified wood, as this tends (in the US anyway) to come from a formation high enough in uranium to actually be mined in some areas. Oh, and if you have any Tiger's Eye jewelery, I would maybe stop wearing it.


zack casey
8/13/2008 12:55:13 AM

I am a geologist and I have to say that, after reading the story from the NY Times, it seems pretty sensational to me. The level of radioactive elements in granite is generally so low it would be very difficult to build up ANY real amount of radon in your house. Couple that with the fact that any radon that IS generated would then be dispersed throughout your house, and at least partially released from your house by ventilation or normal traffic in and out of your house and you can see that the build up of radon to unsafe levels would be highly unlikely. If you're worried about it go with a darker (black) stone (Gabbro or Basalt), or a lighter stone (white granite, Marble, etc) or simply don't cover every surface of your house in granite and you should be perfectly safe. To tell the truth, it seems highly unlikely that a quarry would even produce granite countertops that have high enough levels of radiation to be considered dangerous, seeing as they could make a lot more money as a uranium mine, and they do have geologists on hand to check these things out. If you're worried about radiation in your house, I would start by worrying about your smoke alarms first. The one natural stone that I would be potentially concerned about having in my house would be petrified wood, as this tends (in the US anyway) to come from a formation high enough in uranium to actually be mined in some areas. Oh, and if you have any Tiger's Eye jewelery, I would maybe stop wearing it.


zack casey
8/13/2008 12:54:11 AM

I am a geologist and I have to say that, after reading the story from the NY Times, it seems pretty sensational to me. The level of radioactive elements in granite is generally so low it would be very difficult to build up ANY real amount of radon in your house. Couple that with the fact that any radon that IS generated would then be dispersed throughout your house, and at least partially released from your house by ventilation or normal traffic in and out of your house and you can see that the build up of radon to unsafe levels would be highly unlikely. If you're worried about it go with a darker (black) stone (Gabbro or Basalt), or a lighter stone (white granite, Marble, etc) or simply don't cover every surface of your house in granite and you should be perfectly safe. To tell the truth, it seems highly unlikely that a quarry would even produce granite countertops that have high enough levels of radiation to be considered dangerous, seeing as they could make a lot more money as a uranium mine, and they do have geologists on hand to check these things out. If you're worried about radiation in your house, I would start by worrying about your smoke alarms first. The one natural stone that I would be potentially concerned about having in my house would be petrified wood, as this tends (in the US anyway) to come from a formation high enough in uranium to actually be mined in some areas. Oh, and if you have any Tiger's Eye jewelery, I would maybe stop wearing it.