Q. Should I Be Worried About My Granite Countertops?

Q. Hey Mark,

I’ve been hearing that Granite counter tops might be dangerous. I’m concerned because we just spent a lot money putting some in our new home. I don’t understand it all and just need to know if I should have the granite removed.

Thanks,

Tammy

A. Hey Tammy,

I’ve been reading and hearing a lot about granite too, both positive and negative. It is possible that those in the composite counter top industry have been capitalizing on some research showing that some granite does emit radiation. On the other hand, those in the granite industry are saying that granite is perfectly safe. If you Google this, you are going to find articles that support both sides.

I suspect the truth is somewhere in the middle.  That is, while granite does have the potential to emit radiation, I suspect that in most cases a counter top is not going to contain enough radon producing materials to affect your exposure levels significantly. Yes, I have heard that if you hold a Geiger counter next to a granite counter top it may go off, but I’ve also been told that if you hold one next to a banana it will go off due to the potassium. Knowing what to believe is hard to discern.

The first thing I would suggest is  having a radon test ran in your home. This is something that every homeowner should have done anyway, and it will help you determine whether you have anything to worry about. Continue reading

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Test Your Home for Radon! (My Personal Experience)

I am always very concerned when a home buyer declines having a radon test during their home inspection. I’m genuinely uneasy about the potential health repercussions of that decision. For me, I think it strikes particularly close to home for two reasons. One reason is that my wife’s grandmother, a non-smoker, passed away from lung cancer. Through that experience, we learned first-hand what an insidious disease lung cancer is. Secondly, about 15 years ago, my wife and I bought a home in St. Peters, MO. We hired a home inspector and even though radon testing wasn’t as common in those days, we asked for a radon test. Our home inspector had never performed one before, but he did comply with our request and purchased canister type testing devices to test the home. The radon gas detected by the test was at an acceptable level, and we purchased the house.

Several years later, when I started my home inspection business, I ran another radon test in my home with a continuous electronic radon monitor. We found out that our radon levels were 3 times the level at which the EPA recommends mitigation. Continue reading

Q. Sources of Radon Gas?

Q. Hey Mark,
I’ve heard two different things about radon gas from two different inspectors. One inspector said that radon comes from soil. The other said that it can be brought into the home through other things. Which is right?
Kathy

A. Hey Kathy,

Both inspectors are correct, you just didn’t get a complete explanation from either of their comments. Radon is produced from the natural decay of uranium/radium in the earth’s crust and that decay ultimately produces radon gas and other dangerous decay products. The gas can then work its way through the soil and get trapped in our homes. Continue reading

St. Louis Earthquake, Cracks in Foundation & Radon Gas

5.2 Earthquake and Radon

Hey Readers,

Since the recent earthquake here in St. Louis, I’ve received calls from folks who are concerned about cracks that have formed in their homes. Earthquakes instill a fear in all of our hearts that the structural integrity of our home might be compromised. For larger earthquakes, that is a very real and serious concern. When we experience a medium intensity quake, as we did this week, typically the only damage is minor cracking of foundation walls, and basement slabs, as well as cracking of masonry. Continue reading

Preparing Sellers for Their Radon Test

Hey Readers…

This post doesn’t come as a result of a direct question, but it’s something that you may find useful. I often have a difficult time getting in touch with sellers to properly prepare them for the radon test that their buyers have requested.

In order for the test to be performed to the proper EPA and NEHA-NRPP standards, certain protocols must be followed. Those include cooperation from the residents of the home.

You can access a downloadable pdf file, called Preparing Sellers for their Radon Test, by clicking on the link. You can also find it in the gray download box in the right sidebar (titled RadonPrep), along with other, free to download, pdf files.

Feel free to download any of these files and share them with others.