Radon and Granite Countertops in Homes
In 2008, a national news story (NY Times, “What’s Lurking in your Countertop?”) spurred consumer concern and confusion about rumored elevated radiation levels being emitted from natural granites used for residential countertops and tiles. To allay public fears the Marble Institute of America, the natural stone trade association, contracted EH&E to evaluate exposure and health risks related to radon in granite countertops.
EH&E’s initial analysis found there was no broadly accepted method to reliably measure emissions from countertops in the home. EH&E designed and implemented a novel radon flux measurement system to accurately characterize radon emissions in situ to develop reliable source terms for various exposure scenarios. EH&E then conducted over 10,000 radon flux measurements — the largest and most detailed study of radon release from granite countertops in the world to date.
Measured radon emissions from the study were input into a validated exposure model to estimate radiation dose attributable to emissions from granite countertops. The resultant dose estimates were used to conduct a human health risk assessment. EH&E’s research study proved conclusively that the amount of radon found in a slab of granite, even at the higher emission rates, is not harmful to humans exposed to it under all reasonable exposure scenarios.
EH&E communicated the research findings and analysis in published, peer-reviewed manuscripts, informational material to federal and state agencies, professional associations, and outreach to the public through numerous modes including social media (YouTube, Facebook, etc.), media releases and interviews.