The Low Down On Green Living
July 24th, 2008
OK, you can accuse me of choosing a sensational-ist title, but I did come across a NY Times article this morning that was quite illumating! We’ve often advocated for green countertops for the environmental benefits, but now there’s another very important reason to choose green as well: some of the traditional granite countertops emit high levels of radiation!
It sounds pretty crazy at first glance. However, the earth’s crust is filled with minerals that emit small amounts of radiation, and granite is one of the types of rock that contains radioactive elements. Uranium deposits, for instance, are often found at the boundaries between igneous rocks (such as granite) and other layers of rock. As uranium decays, it emits radon gas. In fact, much of the radon gas that seeps into homes in certain parts of the country comes from the decay of uranium in underground granite deposits. Granite quarried in the US is most likely safe because of better testing and sourcing, but with today’s explosion of granite options from all parts of the world some less-than-safe choices have slipped in.
So, should you call in your local radon surveyors or rip out that granite countertop? Not so fast … even when decorative granite does contain high levels of radiation relative to your average granite slab, it still isn’t nearly as bad as the cosmic radiation you’re bombarded with when flying in a commercial jet. That being said, no radiation is good radiation, especially when you have young kids around. So, if you are thinking about a remodel or choosing new counters for your dream home, consider the many eco-friendly countertop options that DON’T contain minerals from deep within the earth. And, if you have granite already, consider using an inexpensive test kit (several options here) to check before making any expensive decisions.
Oh, and if you really do want countertops that glow, check out EnviroGLAS surfaces made with EnviroGLO aggregate. They are VERY cool. (Pictured at left.) You can see an example on TV on my Greenovate episode (on Discovery Channel’s Planet Green network) starting tomorrow night, for Adam and Suzan used it in their home’s flooring to amazing effect! Click here for a schedule of upcoming shows - the Adam & Suzan Greenovate show is at the bottom.
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