Granite and quartz are widely used in homes as kitchen countertops. Since these materials are mines from nature, do they pose any radon radiation risk? Do granite and quartz countertops in your home emit radon gas?
Granite and quartz countertops emit radon gas but in meager quantities. Countertops made of them do not pose any health risks to the inhabitants in your house, nor they increase radon’s overall level in your home.
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Are granite and quartz countertops safe to use?
This is probably the very next question that comes to your mind. As granite is not as porous as sandstone and sealants are used to treat its exposed surface to make it further non-porous, the chances of radon emission are very low. According to EPA’s official website, they do not have sufficient data to declare the granite countertops as harmful to humans and animals.
Quartz is a non-porous material, and they have an even less chance of emitting radon gas than granite.
No solid evidence has been found so far to establish that granite and quartz stones used for kitchen countertops are increasing the radon levels inside kitchens. There are too many variables to assess the health-risk issues correctly, so it is currently impossible to make a one-size-fits-all answer.
David J. Brenner, Ph.D., Research Director of Columbia University Center for Radiological, says that granite and quartz countertops at the kitchen pose no threat at all. So, it is quite safe to use these countertops at home.
If you are still worried that granite and quartz countertops emit dangerous radon levels, here is a test ran in a granite warehouse in the UK. Even though the warehouse housed hundreds of countertop ready granite and quartz slabs, the radon levels inside even the least ventilated area of the warehouse was considerably lower than one-tenth of the average levels in UK homes (Source).
In addition to this, Health & Physics Society who is specialist in radiation conducted a test on granites to measure their emission levels. They found that the radon readings were only one by eighth the average radon concentration in US homes (Source).
So the conclusion is, granite and quartz countertops are safe to use in houses.
Why do granite and quartz emit radon?
Let’s indulge in few lines of theoretical knowledge. Radon is a radioactive gas. It has no particular fragrance and color. Radon is not trapped within granite-made countertops. We mine granite from several mines, which are scattered off in different regions and countries. Some of these mines can also have naturally radioactive elements like radium, uranium, and thorium, along with granite. So, granite mined from those mines can likely have radioactive elements. Though radioactive elements are solid and coexist with granite, these elements may decay into radon over time.
How to test granite for radon before buying?
Currently, there is no way to correctly assess the radon levels in a granite or quartz countertop. But it is easy to find out whether your kitchen countertop increases the radon levels in your home. To do this, run two radon levels tests, one in the kitchen with the granite/quartz countertop and the other in another room. When you compare the results, if your kitchen’s radon levels are higher than those in the other room, then your countertop may be emitting radon.
There is no way to say this is 100% true as radon levels can vary from room to room, but this method still gives you some idea about the radon levels. At least, it ensures peace of mind once you find that the radon levels in your kitchen and other parts of the home are the same.
If you are buying a new countertop, do a radon test beforehand, and then compare it with the radon levels after the countertop installation. Check for any variations.
Quartz vs Granite: What releases more radon?
Both Quartz and granite release little to no radon gases. When these two materials are compared with each other, granite releases more radon than quartz. This is because granite is a natural stone and slightly porous, whereas quartz is man-made and is non-porous. Just because granite releases more radon in comparison, it doesn’t mean granite is a bad choice; both materials are safe to use.
There is no evidence that quartz or granite countertops emit dangerous levels of radon. It is absolutely safe to use these materials,so free your mind of any worries and go forward with your decision.