Granite countertops - Hazardous to your health?!
Parents are well aware that kitchens are not the safest of places for kids. However, when you think of danger, sharp knives and hot stoves are what come to mind. The only harm a counter top poses a child is if they happen to if catch their head on a sharp edge or corner.
But an odd thing has been discovered in some kitchens: certain granite countertops have been emitting dangerous levels of radon and radioation. "It's not that all granite is dangerous," said Stanley Liebert, the quality assurance director at CMT Laboratories in Clifton Park, N.Y. "But I've seen a few that might heat up your Cheerios a little."
Radon is the silver medalist behind smoking as a leading cause of lung cancer and is most dangerous to smokers who already have compromised lungs. Cancer-causing radation has the most profound effects on developing fetuses and children. Neither is what anyone wants in the room families spend the most time in.
The Marble Institute of America is working on a testing protocol for granite. "We want to reassure the public that their granite countertops are safe," Jim Hogan, the group's president, said. "We know the vast majority of granites are safe, but there are some new exotic varieties coming in now that we've never seen before, and we need to use sound science to evaluate them."
If you have granite countertops you'd like tested for radon or radiation, contact the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists (aarst.org). Testing costs between $100 and $300. Radon tests are available at hardware stores for around $20, but there are no do-it-yourself radiation kits.
Confession: I'd totally dig through the dumpster of discarded granite countertops for installation after my kids are grown and gone. I'm going to die eventually anyway and granite countertops would make my remaining years so much more enjoyable than builder-grade laminate!