Granite countertops have generated widespread acclaim, often praised for their beauty, durability and natural charm. They combine form and function to deliver aesthetically appealing and fully-functional bathrooms and kitchens.
As such, they are the first-rate choice among homeowners, developers, interior specialists and other bathroom and kitchen enthusiasts. While they are a crowd-favourite, a lingering question remains — are granite worktops radioactive? Let’s find out!
To answer this pressing question, we must first understand the makeup and composition of granite and if there are any radioactive elements within the material.
Granite is a molten rock formed a million years ago through the solidification of molten magma beneath the earth’s surface. It comprises minerals such as mica, quartz, feldspar and others. Interestingly, some of these minerals contain small and negligible traces of radioactive elements such as potassium, uranium and thorium.
The radioactive isotopes within granite generate radiation presented as alpha, beta and gamma rays. This has raised health concerns, stating that exposure to these radioactive elements can lead to potential health risks. Some researchers believe that prolonged exposure to high levels of radiation can increase the risk of cancer and other health conditions.
But before we jump to conclusions, it is important to analyse the actual risk posed by the everyday use of granite worktops. Global regulatory bodies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have conducted extensive research to determine potential health hazards.
The General Consensus
The consensus is that granite countertops pose zero to minimal risks to human health due to radioactivity. The radiation levels emitted by granite surfaces are significantly low and within acceptable usage limits for both commercial and residential purposes.
The radiation levels are comparable to those found in common building materials and are classified as Naturally-occurring Radioactive Materials ( NORM) — materials originating from the ground.
The Key Point?
Though everyday exposure to granite countertops won’t cause you any harm, it is worth noting that radioactivity levels in granite vary per geological origin. In other words, some granite samples have higher radioactive levels/elements than others. Hence, it is wise to consult with a reputable seller like FM Marble or test the granite for radioactivity before installation if you have reservations.
Also, you can mitigate potential risks by maintaining proper ventilation in areas or rooms where you have granite countertops. Good ventilation helps disperse any radon gas that is released from the disintegration of uranium and thorium within the material.
And if you live in an area with naturally high levels of radon gas, consider additional radon testing and mitigation measures to safeguard your health. Seal cracks in the foundation and let in plenty of air.
While granite countertops contain trace amounts of radioactive elements, health experts have deemed them safe for everyday use. The radiation levels from granite are negligible and unlikely to cause major health issues.
But to put your mind at ease, have your granite tested and take proper preventive measures such as good ventilation and sealing when and where due. It is also important to stay informed and abreast of recent updates when choosing building materials for your home.