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The Safety of Granite: Austin Boleman addresses a reader's concern about their countertops.

Q: I recently read in a magazine article that granite countertops emit radon gas. Is that true? I have granite countertops in my house; should I be worried?

Heather P., Greenville, SC

A: It is true that some radon gas is emitted from granite countertops. Radon is a byproduct of the decomposition of uranium, and uranium and granite tend to be closely associated. The actual threat to your health, however, must be put into perspective.

Radon occurs naturally in our environment, but in dilute amounts. It becomes a health concern when it becomes concentrated inside our homes. It's the exposure to these elevated levels that can contribute to lung cancer. Awareness of the role that radon plays in lung cancer has greatly increased in recent years, and it's commonly considered to be the greatest contributing factor in lung cancer among non-smokers.

At this year's annual symposium of the American Association of Radon Technologists and Scientists, several papers were presented on the topic of radon risk from granite countertops in the home. The general consensus of opinion was that yes, there is some radon gas given off by granite countertops. The total amount contributed to an average volume of indoor air, however, is relatively insignificant. In other words, those with granite countertops need not be alarmed and can breathe comfortably. What does need to be tested is average indoor air exposure--which can be tested with a standard short-term or long-term radon test--with an understanding that soil gasses containing radon pose the greatest threat.


The EPA recommends that all homes be tested for radon levels. Radon testing can be performed by a homeowner or by a qualified radon provider. If the average level exceeds 4.0, then it's strongly recommended to have the house mitigated by a certified mitigation contractor.

There are several approaches to mitigation, but the most common is to install piping under a home's slab then connect it to a vent pipe with an in-line vent fan. The soil gasses (including radon) are then pulled out from under the slab and discharged to the outside, above the roofline. A certified mitigation contractor will generally guarantee that the indoor average radon level will then be reduced to below 4.0, the EPA standard.

Austin Boleman is the president of Radon Consulting and Mitigation, LLC, and has been nationally certified and active in the radon field in WNC for the past seven years. He welcomes any questions about radon testing and mitigation at 828-242-7687 or and is available to address realtor, civic or school groups. For more information, visit
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Title Annotation:new life journal's GREEN HOME RESOURCE: HEALTHY HOME Q&A
Author:Boleman, Austin
Publication:New Life Journal
Date:May 1, 2009
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