Are Granite Counter tops Safe?I was thinking about installing granite counter tops in my home, but after reports I've seen (and/or read) recently, I'm having second thoughts. Are granite counter tops safe?
- Tina in Prescott
Tina, Yes. Many of the reports are based on questionable science and are not factual. If you want to know the real truth about granite, check studies that have been conducted over the years by well-respected scientists and independent research organizations. Study findings have been consistent: radon emissions from granite counter tops aren't even close to posing a health risk. In fact, one study looked at the granites used in about 85 percent of American counter top installations and found the most popular granite counter tops pose no health threat to homeowners. It's true that samples can vary and some samples can be more of a source of radiation than others - but the highest emission rates ever reported in scientific literature result in concentrations that are hundreds of even thousands of times lower than the EPA's guidelines.
Be reassured that your granite counter tops are every bit as safe as they are beautiful, practical and durable. Some of the media coverage has been disappointing because it does not report the whole story. They show someone waiving a Geiger counter over a granite counter top and it starts clicking. It's definitely sensational - but totally meaningless. The plain fact is that radiation is all around us. Compared to the radiation levels of everyday things in our homes and neighborhoods, the radiation levels produced by granite counter tops are miniscule. You may not realize that a Geiger counter will also click if you waive it over a smoke detector, many wristwatches, your television, your computer, a bowl of Brazil nuts on your kitchen table, cinder block walls in your garage, or even many kinds of glazed pottery in your living room.
Compared to other radiation sources in the home and outside, the risk to the homeowner from radioactivity emitted from a granite counter top or tiles is practically non-existent. In fact, the amount of radon gas emitted by a granite counter top is less than one millionth of that already present in the household air from other sources.
Unfortunately, the coverage has been based on questionable science that seems to be promoted by some parties who hope to benefit from consumer confusion or concern. The sad truth is that consumer fears benefit companies that manufacture synthetic counter tops, two of which are funding some of the fear-mongering efforts, and by radon detection consultants, who will benefit through the sale of their services.
Care of Tops
Granite is a very durable surface. Granite is porous, which makes is susceptible to stains and your counter tops should be sealed so they can repel liquids and retain its beauty for years to come. Once sealed, granite is relatively stain resistant. To remove stains from granite, we suggest the following:
The only way to remove stains from granite is to literally pull the stain out of the stone with material and cleaner that will absorb the stain.
Start by blotting the substance/stain with a paper towel or clean cloth. Do not wipe as this will spread the stain over a larger surface.
Use only cold water and a neutral cleaner.
Ad the poultice to the west surface. Apply the paste, peanut butter consistency to the area, overlapping the stain by about ¼ inch. Do not make the application too thick or it will take too long to dry.
Cover the paste with plastic wrap and tape it down with a low-contact tape.
Remove the plastic cover once the solution is dry and remove the paste by scraping and then rinsing the area.
A stain remover poultice can be purchased from a granite shop.
To seal your granite tops, the surface should be cleaned thoroughly and any stains removed. Apply the sealer with a soaked sponge. allowing no pooling of the sealer. If the sealer is absorbed by the granite is less than 5 minutes, apply more. After 10 minutes, blot the remaining sealer and buff the stone with a dry soft cloth and allow to dry for 12 hours. Sealers can be purchased at any granite shop.
To keep your sealed tops looking new, remember these simple tips. Oil is especially hard on granite. Anytime you fry foods, put down kitchen towels on the surrounding granite to protect from spattered oil. Annual cleaning and resealing is recommended to avoid costly repairs. Wipe down your counter tops after use. Dust and grit act as a sandpaper and wear down the finish. Do not pound on your granite tops. This will cause cracking and chipping. Do not allow stains to stand for any length of time. Do not use strong chemicals or abrasives. Do to use chemicals that are not specifically for granite or natural stone as this can bring unpredictable changes to the counter top surfaces. It is important to use products that are specifically formulated for granite.