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Countertop or KRYPTONITE?
The New York Times, July 24, 2008


Reports of granite emitting high levels of radon and radiation are increasing. As the popularity of granite countertops has grown in the last decade — demand for them has increased tenfold. With increased demand and variety, there have been more reports of “hot” or potentially hazardous countertops, particularly among the more exotic and striated varieties from Brazil and Namibia.
Allegations that granite countertops may emit dangerous levels of radon and radiation have been raised periodically over the past decade, mostly by makers and distributors of competing countertop materials. The Marble Institute of America has said such claims are “ludicrous” because although granite is known to contain uranium and other radioactive materials like thorium and potassium, the amounts in countertops are not enough to pose a health threat.
Indeed, health physicists and radiation experts agree that most granite countertops emit radiation and radon at extremely low levels. They say these emissions are insignificant compared with so-called background radiation that is constantly raining down from outer space or seeping up from the earth’s crust, not to mention emanating from manmade sources like X-rays, luminous watches and smoke detectors.
But with increasing regularity in recent months, the Environmental Protection Agency has been receiving calls from radon inspectors as well as from concerned homeowners about granite countertops with radiation measurements several times above background levels. “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.
The E.P.A. recommends taking action if radon gas levels in the home exceeds 4 picocuries per liter of air (a measure of radioactive emission); about the same risk for cancer as smoking a half a pack of cigarettes per day.
The average person is subjected to radiation from natural and manmade sources at an annual level of 360 millirem (a measure of energy absorbed by the body), according to government agencies like the E.P.A. and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The limit of additional exposure set by the commission for people living near nuclear reactors is 100 millirem per year. To put this in perspective, passengers get 3 millirem of cosmic radiation on a flight from New York to Los Angeles.
Nevertheless, Mr. Witt said, “There is no known safe level of radon or radiation.” Moreover, he said, scientists agree that “any exposure increases your health risk.” A granite countertop that emits an extremely high level of radiation, as a small number of commercially available samples have in recent tests, could conceivably expose body parts that were in close proximity to it for two hours a day to a localized dose of 100 millirem over just a few months.
Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking and is considered especially dangerous to smokers, whose lungs are already compromised. Children and developing fetuses are vulnerable to radiation, which can cause other forms of cancer. Mr. Witt said the E.P.A. is not studying health risks associated with granite countertops because of a “lack of resources.”
Where to Find Tests and Testers
TO find a certified technician to determine whether radiation or radon is emanating from a granite countertop, homeowners can contact the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists ( Testing costs between $100 to $300.
Information on certified technicians and do-it-yourself radon testing kits is available from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Web site at, as well as from state or regional indoor air environment offices, which can be found at Kits test for radon, not radiation, and cost $20 to $30. They are sold at hardware stores and online.
To read the entire article link to:

Dr. Iverson's Comment
Although the amount is small, the awareness that radon can cause damage cumulatively over time is important; especially to those who are immune compromised, the elderly, and children. 
Interestingly enough, some people are intentionally applying similar “hot rocks” directly over tumor growths with some very positive outcomes. The treatment known as “radiation hormesis,” is the intentional application of very low dose focused radiation which results in a subsequent immune response to that area. We are currently running trials of this therapy to see if it offers any benefits. Please contact us if you are interested in more information on this therapy for yourself or loved ones.
Until further information is known about the health effects of radiation from granite, it would be wise to have your granite inspected by the distributor before the costs of purchase and installation.
Below I have attached a chart of the leading sources of radiation; many of them natural, some of them preventable. Interesting how much radiation can be acquired from a round trip continental flight compared to a chest x-ray; flight attendants and pilots have this to consider.   This is one more example of how the unseen toxins of our environment can contribute to our health.
Be Well!
Sources and Doses of Radiation
Radiation Dose Received from Various Sources of Natural Background Radiation
Natural Radiation Source
Dose Received (mrem/year)
Sun, Supernovas
Protons; Electrons
Neutrons; Muons
26 (at sea level)
50 (Denver, CO)
Oceans, Lakes, Streams, Rocks, Soil
Natural Radiation Thorium; Radium; Polonium-210; Lead-210, Potassium-40
16 (Gulf Coast), 30 (Iowa), 63 (Rocky Mtns.)
Food, Milk, Water
Potassium-40; Lead-210; Polonium-210
Primarily Radon
Radiation Dose Received From Other Sources of Radiation
Type of Exposure
Radiation Source
Dose Received
Industrial, Medical and Academic
0-5000 mrem/year, (Average-500 mrem/year)
Cigarettes - 1.5 packs/day
Lead-210 and Polonium-210
1300 mrem/year
Nuclear Medicine Bone Scan
Radioactive Technetium
430 mrem
Living in a Brick House
Uranium and Thorium
75 mrem/year
Watching TV
Low Energy X-rays
30 mrem/year
Routine Chest X-ray
10 mrem/film
Cooking/Heating with Natural Gas
9 mrem/year
Airplane Flight - Cross-Country
Cosmic Radiation
4 mrem/trip
Smoke Detectors
<1 mrem/year
Nuclear Weapons Fallout
Cesium-137; Strontium-90
<0.3 mrem/year
Nuclear Fuel Cycle/Power Plants
Nuclear Fuel
0.1 mrem/year
Table Source: University of Iowa Radiation Protection Office

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