Granite counter tops! Safe or hazardous to your health???

Granite counter tops! Safe or hazardous to your health???

It used to be that everyone longed for granite counter tops in their kitchen.  Having a granite counter top was the equivalent of having a BMW or Mercedes in your driveway.  But with recent reports of radon or radiation emitting from granite, are granite counter tops safe or hazardous to your health? Or is it just a few naysayers making a big ado over nothing?

Over the past several years, there have been reports that granite counter tops are dangerous because they emit radon gas.

What is Radon?

Radon is a radioactive gas that is created by the natural decay of uranium found in water, rocks, and soil.

What about radon & radioactivity in granite countertops?

Granite is mined from the earth, where radium and naturally occurring radioactive materials are found.  Certain regions have higher levels of radioactivity than others so some granite could contain more natural uranium than others, and possibly show higher radon levels than what is considered safe by the authorities in your area.  Most countertops that have been tested do not have significant levels of radon.  However, there has been some granite countertops that had been tested contained significantly high levels of radon.  It all depends on what area your granite countertop originated from.

Are high levels of radon dangerous to your health?

Yes.  Radon causes thousands of death due to lung cancer per year.  Radon is the 2nd leading cause of lung cancer, after smoking.

What are considered “safe” levels of radon?

The World Health Organization (WHO) has set standards as to what are the acceptable levels of radon.  Each country sets their standards within this range.  It is best to check out your government’s website to find out for your country & area.

How can I test for radon?

There are two options for testing a house for radon: one is to purchase a do-it-yourself radon test kit and the other is to hire a radon measurement professional. Check out your government’s website for further information.  U.S. and Canada’s website info is at the end of this article.

Should I test for radon?

Radon Test Kit! It’s better to be safe than sorry!

Most radon in the home that has caused deaths has come up from the ground into the cracks and holes in the foundation, not from granite counter tops.  Your home traps radon inside and it can build up.   It can happen in any home: old, new, homes with basement or homes with none.  Well water can also be a source of radon.  Some regions are known to have higher radon levels than others.  Your local government should be able to provide you with information regarding the radon levels in your area.

Even though the risk of radon in granite counter tops is quite low, it would be wise to test the radon levels in your kitchen. There have been some cases where the radon level reading for granite was above the acceptable limits.

I really like granite.  Can I buy a granite counter top for my kitchen?

If you don’t have granite in your home and you’re thinking about installing it OR if you’re thinking of purchasing a home that has granite counter tops, I encourage you to test it before you install, or buy.  Most granite counter tops are safe but it’s better to test and be safe than sorry.


Sources & for further info, check out the website for your area: 

Health Canada

United States Environmental Protection Agency


Debi Collinson is a Designer.  She renovates “fixer uppers” to flip or to rent.  She staged houses for 10 years. She has seen houses at their best and their worst. Debi passes on her knowledge to help people Add Value to their Home while making their home a stunning retreat at the same time.


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