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Fact-Checking Granite Concerns: Radiation Risk or Homeowner Myth?

Does granite emit radiation?

Concerns over the radiation exposure that comes with granite worktops are growing among homeowners. Granite is a very popular building and house material because of its aesthetic appeal, practicality, and durability, especially for kitchen countertops. Certain granite countertops have radiation emissions, especially radon gas, that are dangerously high. This colorless gas is produced when uranium decays. It has been connected to a higher risk of lung cancer. Is there any scientific basis for this mounting anxiety, one would wonder?

The fact that granite releases radiation is not shocking. Other things in our homes also do this. Depending on the natural uranium and/or thorium concentration, granite can produce varying amounts of radiation. 

Any granite sample could have different amounts of uranium and other naturally occurring radioactive elements in it. These substances have the ability to release radiation in the form of radon gas, alpha, beta, and gamma rays.

Here are some crucial details about radiation and granite that every homeowner has to be aware of.

Fact 1: Radon is dangerous

Without a doubt, radon gas is hazardous. According to research, is second only to smoking as the primary cause of lung cancer. Due to the predisposition of their lungs to the disease, smokers are more vulnerable. Radiation exposure, including high quantities of radon gas, can potentially pose a risk to growing foetuses and children.

However, studies on granite's radiation and radon gas concentrations generally show that granite does not pose a health danger to people. Although it is exceedingly uncommon, anyone who frequently comes into contact with a granite countertop that emits high amounts of radioactive emissions for at least two hours a day could be exposed. It is seen to be less hazardous by some experts than frequent flying, prolonged stays in basements, or any location near soil that always contains trace levels of uranium.

Fact 2: Granite contains radioactive materials

Granite does, without a doubt, contain radioactive materials—some more than others, but it is obvious. The most common kind of natural stone found worldwide is granite. It originates from the cooling of magma under extreme heat and pressure over millions of years. The Marble Institute of America (MIA) states that granite is made up of numerous components. comprising radioactive elements like potassium and thorium in addition to uranium. That being said, these radioactive elements are usually present in minimal concentrations. Actually, radioactive elements are naturally present in all naturally occurring stones, regardless of their kind.

They do not, however, represent a threat to people. Because granite is far less porous than marble or limestone, it might even be less dangerous. There won't be a chance for any uranium that might be hiding there to emit any radon gas it generates.

Additionally, homeowners need to understand that the presence or absence of radioactive emissions of any kind does not equate to safety or risk. All life on Earth is exposed to and impacted by natural sources of ionising radiation, according to the Nuclear Information and Resource Service.

Fact 3: Radiation levels in granite are extremely low

Experts in radiation and health concur that a large majority of ornamental granite slabs have extremely low radioactive emissions. They are insignificant. In this regard, they are not as harmful as the majority of people are exposed to in the form of cosmic radiation or soil pollutants. When compared to radiation from X-rays, smoke alarms, and watch dials, granite has substantially less radiation.


Scaremongers' latest obsession is granite and radiation, but many homeowners are not falling for the gimmick. Many people still favor granite countertops, including those who have firsthand experience with granite that has high radiation levels. They have all granite slabs inspected before installation.

In summary, utilising average observed dose rates from granite countertop slabs and assuming a reasonably tight home with an air change rate of 0.5 per hour (h-1), the projected radon concentration in kitchen air would be Bq m-3*, or 4.8 becquerels per cubic meter. This quantity is significantly below the 4 picocuries per liter (pCi L-1) (150 Bq m-3) recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and less than one-eighth of the typical radon gas concentration in American households.

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