Monday, July 28, 2008

What's In Your Countertops?

Do you have granite counter tops in your kitchen or bathroom? If so, you may want to know that granite counter tops have recently come under scrutiny for health risks. Granite is one of the most popular materials used in the home for counters, according to the Marble Institute of America. The types of granite available are becoming more numerous as well. Over the years, reports have come out stating that radon is emitted from granite counters. Reports are becoming more and more common, and due to the sales of granite growing in the home improvement industry, we might be hearing still more.

Although experts say that granite emits radon and radiation in at extremely low levels, in recent months, The Environmental Protection Agency has reported receiving calls from radon inspectors and homeowners alike -- relaying that counter tops are emitting radiation at levels much higher than in the past. “We’ve been hearing from people all over the country concerned about high readings,” said Lou Witt, a program analyst with the agency’s Indoor Environments Division. If levels of radon gas exceed 4 picocuries (a measure of radioactive emission) per liter of air or higher in the home, The E.P.A. urges consumers to act immediately. This would be a similar cancer risk for smoking a half pack of cigarettes per day.

If you have existing granite counter tops, should you tear them out? A good question to ask is, what is your health worth? Each day, we are all exposed to large amounts of radiation, but not having more of this type of exposure in your home where you spend large amounts of time, might be something you want to consider thinking about. It is a good idea to have your counters tested to know the radon levels being emitted, and then go from there. Good alternatives to granite would be Corian or Simplicity, concrete, quartz, and various recycled and composite materials. Visit the sites of EnviroGLAS and Icestone, which both produce superior quality counter tops manufactured from recycled glass and concrete.

For more information, read this article from the New York Times about radiation in granite counter tops.


Craig said...

If you're interested in recycled glass countertops you should check out as well. Like its competitors all of the glass Vetrazzo uses is recycled, but with a 85% recycled content it has the highest amount of recycled glass of any surfacing material on the market.

Scott Jenkins said...

I absolutely think quartz countertops are the best alternative to granite but I am not so convinced that we are not throwing the baby out with the bath water with granite.

Sylvia Sanderson said...

We've been looking into getting some new countertops. I want to check out some granite materials and designs. Hopefully we can find something that my husband and I both like!