THIS is not good. The New York Times reports today that, apparently, granite countertops have been found to emit (low level, often) amounts of radiation. I not only spend many hours a day in close proximity to my granite countertops, I've been known to caress them when they look particularly fetching.
Exotic granites from faraway seem to be particular culprits. I was hoping that my Dakota Mahagony granite came from a state by that name, but not necessarily. Great...one more thing to worry about in vast of array of modern environmental concerns.
I immediately called a radon expert (go to Mitigation Services Listed by State on that site), a very helpful John Soos. He made me feel both better and worse. He said radon professionals have always known that granite countertops give higher radon readings.
If you put a radon test kit right on the source, i.e. the granite counter, the reading is higher. Every inch away from it, the reading is lower. The danger, though, isn’t from touching (or stroking, in my case) the granite, it’s from BREATHING in the gas that’s emitted from the radioactive elements in the granite.
I asked if resealing the granite could help. He said perhaps, because the radon can only travel as a gas. As the granite decays, the radon within turns into a gas and, presumably, sealing or resealing the countertop could cut the exposure.
By the way, the EPA says action is only needed above 4 picocuries, while maintaining, of course, that NO level of radon is safe.
I frankly can't believe I never heard of this before. It's not mentioned in any of the usual lists for how radon gets into your house. So does that mean that it's a bogus concern?
What to do? I’m following Mr. Soos’s advice and getting a home test kit (or two or three). I’ll see what the readings say and then I’ll call my new best friend. I’ll let you know what I find.