MONDAY JULY 28, 2008 (foodconsumer.org) -- The Marble
Institute of America on Friday responded to the studies by Rice University
physics professor W.J. Llope saying that granite countertops pose no
significant health risk.
Earlier, Llope was cited by Houston Chronicle as finding
that some granite countertops generate gamma radiation and radon gas at a level
that is considered dangerous by the U.S. government.
In its statement, the MIA categorized the studies as junk
science and cited new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) statements to
say that radon gas and radiation released from granite countertops do not pose
The MIA represents producers and quarriers, fabricators,
installers, distributors and contractors worldwide in the natural dimension
"While natural minerals such as granite may
occasionally emit radon gas, the levels of radon attributable to such sources
are not typically high," the EPA statement was quoted by MIA as saying.
"EPA believes the principal source of radon in homes is
soil gas that is drawn indoors through a natural suction process.”
In an EPA statement cited by the industrial organization,
the EPA acknowledges that the "it is possible for any granite sample to
contain varying concentrations of uranium that can produce radon gas.
Some granite used in countertops may
contribute variably to indoor radon levels.”
But the government agency goes on to say that it "has
no reliable data to conclude that types of granite used in countertops are
significantly increasing indoor radon levels."
The MIA also quoted a statement by the EPA to discount worry
about the radiation from granite countertops. "Construction materials such
as concrete, cinder blocks, bricks, and granite contain small amounts of
radioactive materials that are found naturally in the materials used to make
them," meaning that radiation is not unique with granite countertops.
"Every time researchers have applied rigorous
scientific standards to testing, the results have found that granite
countertops pose no risk," said Jim Hogan, president of the MIA.
"Repeated studies have found that granite is safe.
Unfortunately, some recent junk science being reported as fact only serves to
panic the public, not inform it. Our goal is to end this fear mongering by facilitating
the creation of a real scientific standard for testing granite
Llope tested 55 stones of 25 varieties of granite stones
purchased from local dealers and found some homeowners would be exposed to 100
millirems of radiation in just a few months, exceeding the annual exposure
limit set by the Department of Energy for visitors to nuclear labs.
Llope did not publish the names of the granite countertops
that he found are most dangerous, but he was cited as saying that the highly
radioactive varieties include striated granites from Brazil and Namibia.
In a document published on his website, Llope said there is
no safe threshold for radiation and the general guideline is that each rem of
radiation would cause cancer in 4 people in a population of 10,000.
Some granite countertops he tested released one rem of
radiation in just 250 hours or 10 days.
But the MIA cited two recent studies by researchers at the
University of Akron and Consumer Reports as finding no grounds to fear granite
countertops because radon gas did not seem to be an issue.
It is not immediately clear if these two studies tested
radiation from granite countertops.
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