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Thanks for stopping by! I'm Susan Serra, certified kitchen designer, and my mission is to take kitchen design style, function and analysis to a higher level. Here's why the kitchen has the most honored place in the home - all five senses reside in the kitchen.  Best...Susan  Contact: susan@susanserraassociates.com

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Granite Countertops - More Radon News

Following is a partial press release I just received from the NKBA: 

"HACKETTSTOWN, NJ (August 4, 2008) - There has been recent news concerning the possibility that granite countertops may contain dangerously high levels of radon. The National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) has long recognized the carcinogenic effects of radon in the home and, as a result, recommends that consumers planning to remodel a kitchen or bath consult with an NKBA-certified designer.

Associate Kitchen & Bath Designers (AKBDs), Certified Kitchen Designers (CKDs), Certified Bathroom Designers (CBDs), and Certified Master Kitchen & Bath Designers (CMKBDs) are experts in design who have been taught the proper methods for eliminating radon and other hazardous gases from the home, as discussed in the NKBA Professional Resource Library volume Kitchen and Bath Systems.

In addition to radon, NKBA-certified designers are familiar with many other health concerns in kitchen and bath remodels that most consumers have never considered. 

For more details on the health effects of radon in granite countertops, the NKBA recommends the Marble Institute of America as a reliable source of information. An associate member of the NKBA, the Institute has prepared a thorough analysis of radon levels and granite in its 2008 Radon Study. This study, as well as a consumer radon brochure and additional documents concerning radon in granite countertops are available at www.marble-institute.com."

While I'm a CKD, as mentioned in the press release, I'd have to say, no, I do not know the proper methods for "eliminating radon....from the home". Everything I read talks about "reducing" not "eliminating." "Eliminating" is a black and white concept. I'm not a scientist or a radon eliminating technician although there are many common sense tasks one can do to reduce. That said, I must put this issue in the hands of the consumer to make their own decision on what they believe in regard to granite and radon or to take other measures, such as hiring a professional radon technician for testing purposes, and so on. I do not have an opinion on either side of this issue as it is beyond my knowledge. Perhaps if I were a geophysicist I'd weigh in on this.

I love the phrase, "I know what I don't know." Perfect for this situation.

What do you think?

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Reader Comments (17)

There has been a lot of discussion about this on the Kitchen and Bath forum at THS. A forum search on Radon will get you a lot of hits:
Radon thread

People involved in the discussion included the scientist who did the original tests that started the brouhaha. As far as I can make out, the danger involves only one kind of granite out of all the ones tested, which had specific areas in it (inclusions of other rock) which were "hot". Most granite tested did not pose any danger. I recommend reading the threads though, starting with the earliest, as the later ones include a lot of people drawn in by the sensational press coverage who had not read the earlier information.


August 4, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKevin Wilson

I'm with you on this one. I am a member of NKBA, although not certified, and I would not want to be considered any type of expert on this. I think NKBA is quite a good organization, but it seems they are resorting to a bit of a scare tactic to urge consumers to only hire a certified Kitchen Designer. This is a little reminiscent of ASID trying to scare consumers into supporting legistlation only allowing Certified Interior Designers to do any sort of design work whatsover because of Health and Human Saftey issues. NKBA has been fighting this legistlation with both claws out. It sounds a little like the pot calling the kettle black.

August 4, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterkatiedid

Kevin, yes I have seen that thread, thanks. The big picture, to me, is, "Is one qualified to advise on this issue in an authoritative and specific way?" Are there biases in an argument? Where and why? It's a debate that I cannot be an authority on. Only to note that it IS a debate.

Katiedid! How are you liking your kitchen?

Well, there is a mandatory curriculum and many other requirements that go into attaining CKD/CBD status which go well beyond learning to design a kitchen, moving far into the "guts" of construction, mechanical systems, indoor air issues, and beyond.

I think in this case, it's appropriate to point out the value of seeking advice from NKBA accredited pros. I just think using the word "eliminate" was misguided.

August 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

I have never heard of this "radon" in granite countertops and I have been using them for 30 years. I think it is just another thing to worry about...use a cutting board! And I second Katie's comment.

August 11, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterpatricia gray

The nsra is installing a hot slab and testing a home live on the net for all to see. Here is a link just in case you all would like to see.


September 3, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterHUligar

Wow, it's hard to imagine something as natural as stone being harmful. Though I suspect we're in more danger from our microwaves. :P If one thing doesn't kill you, something else will. The dangers of living in our modern world!

September 4, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLindsay


If i have white kitchen cabinets, dark hardwood flooring, stainless steel appliances and neutral walls, what kind of kitchen table should i do?

September 7, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterjessica

At the risk of not being popular, anything that keeps people from using that over shiny, over used, super suburban, spec home granite...propaganda or not, I'm all for. There are SO many other choices out there.

September 12, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterbeachbungalow8

Thanks for waiting. I just got back from Vegas where the people who come up with programs to deal with Radon and Radiation were having a conference and one of the topics was building materials.

I personally spoke to Stanley P. Liebert of CMT Laboratories who denied any direct or indirect correspondence with our Al or the SSA. Mr. Liebert went on to say that the only thing that he is hoping to point out is the fact that 10 out of the 2000 granites emit some radiation. This however, does not directly translate to what we have been reading on the web. That is, if you have a slab that has some traces of radiation it will give off radon with in the next ten generations. Mr. Liebert is also the proud owner of granite as well. He thinks it’s crazy for someone to remove a counter top simply because of one area that may show a reading.

I also had the pleasure of speaking with Erik Listou of Build Responsible, Gary Hodgden of AAIR Professionals, Bill Brodhead of WPB Enterprises Inc, and Shawn Price of Air Chek, Inc. These guys gave me a crash course in radiation and radon while confirming that we had the hottest stone measured to date.

Everyone that I spoke to all had the same conclusion. At this time the radiation from natural stone has no significant bearing on the radon levels in a home. It was also explained and demonstrated that the meters on the market are not the best tools to go hunting for radon coming from natural stone. The areas of a slab can be easily avoided or even removed if deemed necessary.

In the NSRA test kitchen, the numbers before the installation were all very low. All were less than 0.3 pCi/l on the days of testing (about as low as anyone can measure.)

The test kit in the hall was 0.6 pCi/l
The test kit hanging in the door way was 0.8
The test kit hanging from the cabinets was 0.7
And the one we hung 12" over the "hottest" spot was 1.0 pCi/l

This test was done in a way to make sure we got the highest readings possible. We now intend on testing the home as if we were simply testing for radon in the home.

September 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterHuligar


I know I am a bit late on uploading a comment to the thread, but I just wanted to share my personal experience about radon. I just recently bought my first home, and had never heard of radon. My house is in Georgia, in an area known to have really high levels of radon (there is a lot of granite underground in my area). Radon is emitted from the rock (granite included), so once I learned a little bit more about how bad radon is, I of course got my house tested. (It was found to have a non-threatening level)

There is a small amount of radon in the outdoor environment all the time, and can not be eliminated. It does not affect people because the level is so low, and in an open environment it can't do much harm. The gas becomes harmful when it seeps into the house through cracks in the slab/flooring, pipes, etc, and gets trapped inside.

That being said, you can never eliminate radon gas, but the problem can be mitigated with ventilation systems. It seems a little goofy to me that the NKBA wants people to hire only certified designers for help with the granite specifically regarding radon. There is always radon around, even in houses. Usually it just vents out. I don't think that putting in granite counter tops would be enough to tip the radon level in your home a cancer causing amount.

October 15, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMopher

Hey, I like your blog, very nicely written and well put together. I'm not trying to advertise or anything about I just would like to share with you my blog Kitchen Art Showroom maybe we can get some ideas from eachother and would like to hear some opinions from you and maybe other people about how it looks and to give any advice on how to make it better.

December 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJordan

I certainly wasn't trained in getting rid of radon, either, when I took my NKBA Kitchen Krafter class eons ago.

There was a mention the other day of how to do this at the LEED for Homes overview class I attended the other day, though. A gravel bed, overlaid by a vapor barrier under the slab of the house, a vent stack through a warm wall, venting out the roof, and a j-box by the vent stack so a fan to boost the ventilation can be installed if necessary. I'm sure this is simplistic - and it not only just deals with how to vent the radon from underneath the whole house, not specifically from your kitchen countertops, but is really beyond our purview as interior designers or even kitchen designers anyways.

I also just saw an article the other day (I don't remember where, but it was a reliable source) indicating that they've decided that this isn't really an issue to worry about anyways.

Great blog, BTW; I just discovered it, and I look forward to reading more of your posts.


December 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterHoechstetter Interiors

We have a full scale Radon test in progress. Eighteen square feet of granite with a large hot spot, 8' x 12'x 8' tall room.

So far the highest level has been 10 pCi/L (4 pCi/L is like smoking one and a half packs of cigarettes per day) but the Radon level in the room is rising every day.

More info at our forum.solidsurfacealliance.org

So far a few dozen stones are of concern for radiation. The stones that will be of concern for Radon are not known. Once we thought high radiation meant high Radon, but some low level stones have been found to produce far more Radon than was predicted, so we just don't know enough about the science yet.

There are two committees looking into the dangers, AARST (Radon scientists) have one committee on Radon and granite, and the CRCPD (state radiation officials) is looking into the radiation aspects. Also two material standards organizations (ANSI and ASME) have formed groups that are looking into setting standards for maximum radiation content.

Until this is all sorted out, don't panic, but please have your home tested for Radon with an extra test done in the kitchen just in case. We have a list of testers for radiation for many parts of the country, or contact a Radon mitigator in your area,some have radiation meters and can test your granite for a fee.

And please encourage your customers to pretest their granite prior to purchase. I am a granite fabricator, we sell all types of countertops, and we test every single square foot of every slab we sell.

December 14, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAl Gerhart

We had high levels of radon in our home and our granite countertops, which we already planned to get rid of, were also emitting high levels of radon. Not all granite does though from what I've read. We've now installed a mitigation system and have Silestone in our kitchen with a much higher air quality in our home.

It's a big relief to me. Growing up a relatively young, non-smoking parent of a friend (in his mid-40's) died of lung cancer. It was traced to extremely high levels of radon coming into the home via a built in planter.

December 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLLB

I have never heard of this "radon" in granite countertops and I have been using them for 30 years. I think it is just another thing to worry about...use a cutting board! And I second Katie's comment.


December 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRajaei ali.

@Rajaei, Radon is a dangerous radioactive gas present in certain areas, and can build-up inside houses: See here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radon

July 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBedford

I like the expression, "I do not understand all that I know."
And I just subscribed to your RSS feed.

September 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMoccasin

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