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  1. #1
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    Default CBS 'The Early Show' Airs Segment on Granite Countertop Radon Scare

    On July 25 CBS ran a one-sided segment on the dangers of radon from granite countertops on its morning show The Early Show with Harry Smith.

    View the video on YouTube here.

    This segment closely parallels the article in the NYT except the Times article also included the opposing view from the Marble Institute of America. Stanley Liebert of CMT Laboratories is featured in the segment. Mr. Liebert was also quoted in the NYT article as saying, “It’s not that all granite is dangerous, but I’ve seen a few that might heat up your Cheerios a little.” I'm sure the noisy instruments Mr. Liebert used in the CBS segment were much more effective in scaring the general public than his mere words in the NYT article.

    Business & Media Institute ran an article (read it here) that discusses both the CBS segment and the NYT article in a very objective manner. A few quotes from the ariicle follow.

    Harry Smith, co-host of CBS’s “The Early Show,” warned viewers on July 25 that radioactivity what [sic] might be “lurking inside” their granite countertops despite the risk being close to “one in a million.”

    “I mean some people have gone so far as to tear their kitchen counters out because of the concern,” Smith said to Stanley Liebert, the quality assurance director at CMT Laboratories. “There’s granite all over the place in modern kitchens, sometimes have a little breakfast nook. You sit there; you may sit there hours and hours and hours in a day.”

    . . .

    Smith showed some skepticism, though, saying, “I’m having a difficult time getting my head around the idea that the countertops in your home might literally be dangerous.”

    Despite that, no representatives for the granite counter industry were included in the CBS report.

    . . .

    The Times said allegations of radon and radiation in granite counter tops have been raised periodically over the past decade, “mostly by makers and distributors of competing countertop materials.”

    The Marble Institute of America told the Times the recent claims were “ludicrous” because although granite is known to “contain uranium and other radioactive materials like thorium and potassium, the amounts in countertops are not enough to pose a health threat.”

    David J. Brenner, director of the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia University in New York, pointed out to the Times the cancer risk from granite countertops is “on the order of one in a million.”


    According to Mr. Brenner, the cancer risk from granite countertops is about 1 in 1,000,000. Compare that to the risk of a non-smoker developing lung cancer from radon due to a lifetime exposure to a radon concentration of 4.0 pCi/L (the EPA Action Level). That risk is 7 in 1,000 (or 7,000 in 1,000,000).

    The risk of cancer from exposure to radon at EPA's Action Level is 7,000 times higher than the risk from granite countertops. What is the lesson we should learn from this? We should concentrate our efforts on reducing residential radon due to natural sources (e.g., soil gas and water) rather than focusing on radon due to granite countertops.

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  2. #2
    Al Gerhart's Avatar
    Al Gerhart Guest

    Default Re: CBS 'The Early Show' Airs Segment on Granite Countertop Radon Scare

    Brenner is using one in a million as a SWAG. He has no idea the real risk till he plugs in the amount of Radon, the time of exposure, and the persons risk factors. And why not provide the rest of Brenners quote, where he asked why someone would bring in a source of Radon into a home?

    And that Sugarman Shivakasi was found to be giving of 4,000 pCi/sf/hr, more than enough to raise the kitchen levels to 100 pCi/L that Stan Liebert measured.

    Since the risk is linear, your example of 7 in 1,000 at 4 pCi/L would be multiplied by 25 times, or 175 extra cancers in 1,000 people exposed.

    That is 1 in 5.7 risk. Are you feeling lucky? Are you willing to let YOUR family face those odds? Are you willing to allow your customers take that risk? Are you willing to face the lawsuits for not warning them to do a Radon test just in case their top is that one in 100 high level countertop? And no, we don't know it is 1 in 100, that is the real issue, no one knows how many of these 100 pCi/L tops are out there.

    How about laying off Stan till you educate yourself in these matters?


  3. #3
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    Cool Re: CBS 'The Early Show' Airs Segment on Granite Countertop Radon Scare

    You would probably save more people from lung cancer if you banned smoking inside the house.

    If you take your example of 1 in 5.7, wouldn't it also mean that there is the chance that 4.7 in 5.7 that DO NOT HAVE A HIGH RISK?

    I just can't get too excited about radon in granite. How do we know the granite or the kitchen cabinet wasn't doctored to produce the results? It's not exactly a stretch to find out that someone has manipulated (falsified) tests for their own gain or agenda.

    The National Enquirer is proof that you can't always take what you read or hear as gospel.


  4. #4
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
    Ted Menelly Guest

    Default Re: CBS 'The Early Show' Airs Segment on Granite Countertop Radon Scare

    I keep reading and watching, reading and watching, reading and watching. I might not be the brightest bulb in the package but I just do not see anything anywhere that can say that you *are* going to get cancer from granite counter tops in your home. The way I see it you are more likely to get particular forms of cancer from one serious all day exposure to the sun before you get cancer from granite in decades. Or from being stuck in traffic for a week compared to decades of exposure to your granite counter tops.

    What about the billions of tons of granite flooring. Old granite buildings.Granite quarry men (other than sucking granite dust in every day. Granite polishers. Granite cleaning crews in the big plants.

    Come on. Do you realize how many homes and buildings are built over granite. We live on a granite planet. We live on a radio active planet. We have such serious radiation penetrating our bodies every day of our lives. Maybe certain kinds of radiation but it is there.

    Do you know how many people smoke for decades and do not die of cancer. Then there is the folks that die of lung cancer that never smoked.

    Do you realize how many people have leaking microwave ovens and do not know it. Should micro waves be banned from homes and everyone throw the ones they have out because of the risk.

    Damn. Do you know how much I like sausage. I have it once or twice a week. All reality says that sausage should be banned because of the effects it has on people. Steak, ..........OH...........MY.........GOD. They should slaughter all the cattle to keep people from dieing from eating it. Now that is a serious matter.

    "Are you willing to face the lawsuits for not warning them to do a Radon test just in case their top is that one in 100 high level counter top?"

    Law suits? What lawsuits? Not my job and never will be to inform the public of every *possible* and I mean *maybe, big maybe, might be, maybe not, possible* health risk in their new home.

    For God sakes man. Every material and every finish in their home is a health risk. Some of those items (to some people) are a much greater health risk than granite ever thought of being. The carpets. The paints. The glues in the make believe wood products. The finishes. Their cleaning agents. The concrete dust in their driveway and garage floor and patio, every time they sweep it. Now that is a proven serious health risk. Uh oh. No more concrete surfaces in and around homes. Damn. Doctor Pepper. Do you have any idea what long term drinking of that does to your system.

    Do you have any idea how many people slip in their tub or shower every year and slightly to seriously injure themselves. I am sure is is thousands of times greater than the "possibility" of getting cancer from granite.

    I've got it. Ban showers and bathtubs in every home. You must now stand on no slip rubberized mats for your health safety. Wait a minute. Is rubber bad for you also?

    Just a few of my thoughts

    Oh yeah. Just my opinion.


  5. #5
    Al Gerhart's Avatar
    Al Gerhart Guest

    Default Re: CBS 'The Early Show' Airs Segment on Granite Countertop Radon Scare

    First off, you don't start off assuming anyone doctored anything. You take the info at face value until the facts don't add up, then if the questions aren't answered, you start thinking skeptically.

    No way to doctor radiation, it is there or it isn't. Short of having access to a nucleara reactor do dunk your samples in, it isn't possible to fake.

    The odds are high no matter how you look at it. Odds like 1 in 5.7 is like playing russian roulette with a six shot revolver with one bullet in the cylinder. Every spin has the same odds.

    I agree that smoking causes more deaths, the difference is that people know of those risks, but they are unaware of the Radon risks. And if they do smoke, radon is six times more deadly. Not a good thing.

    This is not about eliminating every tiny risk in life, this is about informing the public about a risk that has been hidden for the last 14 years.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: CBS 'The Early Show' Airs Segment on Granite Countertop Radon Scare

    Al,

    Are you in the business of detecting radon or removal of granite counter tops from homes?

    Just curious.

    rick


  7. #7
    Al Gerhart's Avatar
    Al Gerhart Guest

    Default Re: CBS 'The Early Show' Airs Segment on Granite Countertop Radon Scare

    Rick, I am not in the Radon or removal business. I fabricate cabinets and countertops, including granite countertops. I have geiger counters, scintillators, even a Gamma Spectrometer for measuring radiation in granite slabs.

    Look, this is so simple. Most granite is relitively safe, but we really don't know which are safe and which aren't. We do know that a trip to a large slab yard will turn up plenty of hot granite, background being 7 uR/hr and slabs from 50uR/hr to 800uR/he can be found.

    On Friday, I surveyed a slab yard and found about twenty bundles of pretty hot granites, Bordeauxs of all kinds, five or six of the Africa Range Collection, and some surprises like Carica Gold and Fiorito.

    Some scrap piles behind fabricators shop shows zero problems, mostly shops dealing with cheap builders colors.

    People can argue all they wish, but in the end nothing refutes the simple fact that there are high radiation level granites out there and that the medical/scientific consensus is that low dose radiation and Radon is a health hazard.


  8. #8
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    Default Re: CBS 'The Early Show' Airs Segment on Granite Countertop Radon Scare

    Quote Originally Posted by Al Gerhart View Post
    in the end nothing refutes the simple fact that there are high radiation level granites out there and that the medical/scientific consensus is that low dose radiation and Radon is a health hazard.

    Al,

    "and that the medical/scientific consensus is"

    I believe you will find that is not necessarily the consensus. You will, however, find that is what the EPA arrived at, and some state it was contrary to the EPA's own data.

    Not being a radiation expert, or a radon expert, but just an ordinary Joe Smoe who has been exposed to very high levels of radiation at various times and, contrary to popular belief, I do not 'glow-in-the-dark'.

    High levels of radiation such that the Geiger counter pegged the meter: on the 0.2 scale, on the 2 scale, on the 20 scale, and on the 200 scale, but did not peg the meter on the 2000 scale (was around mid-scale as I recall). Be that as it may, that was 40 years ago, no self-illumination, not sterile, not glow in the dark, just a tad on the weird side (hmmmm ... I can see it now - minds racing around thinking 'Soooo that is his problem ).

    People step out of airplanes every day, without parachutes, and don't die when they hit the ground. Scary thought, huh?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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  9. #9
    Brandon Chew's Avatar
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    Default Re: CBS 'The Early Show' Airs Segment on Granite Countertop Radon Scare

    Quote Originally Posted by Al Gerhart View Post
    Rick, I am not in the Radon or removal business. I fabricate cabinets and countertops, including granite countertops. I have geiger counters, scintillators, even a Gamma Spectrometer for measuring radiation in granite slabs.

    Look, this is so simple. Most granite is relitively safe, but we really don't know which are safe and which aren't. We do know that a trip to a large slab yard will turn up plenty of hot granite, background being 7 uR/hr and slabs from 50uR/hr to 800uR/he can be found.

    On Friday, I surveyed a slab yard and found about twenty bundles of pretty hot granites, Bordeauxs of all kinds, five or six of the Africa Range Collection, and some surprises like Carica Gold and Fiorito.

    Some scrap piles behind fabricators shop shows zero problems, mostly shops dealing with cheap builders colors.

    People can argue all they wish, but in the end nothing refutes the simple fact that there are high radiation level granites out there and that the medical/scientific consensus is that low dose radiation and Radon is a health hazard.

    Al,

    What pCi/sf/hr level is considered unsafe and what government approved (or recommended) or industry standard test protocol should be used to measure it?

    Brandon


  10. #10
    Al Gerhart's Avatar
    Al Gerhart Guest

    Default Re: CBS 'The Early Show' Airs Segment on Granite Countertop Radon Scare

    Jerry,

    The medical/scientific consensus was BEIR VII. One or two fringe opinions hardly make a dent in the consensus of thousands of Phds on the BEIR committees. Entire govt agencies from around the world participated. There are comments online on the processs, and they responded to each one.

    I believe you are refering to the C C guy that Bruce quoted. Read BEIR VII, they considered his opinions and refuted them.

    No disrespect intended, but those are the facts.

    You are right about high level rad doses, it doesn't cause everyone a problem. That is why the risks are stated as x in x,000 cause it affects only an unlucky few. One study said that low level radiation damage is subtle enough that sometimes the cell doesn't realize it is damaged and continues to reproduce and passes on damaged DNA. High doses just kill the cell or causes it to self destruct to protect the rest.

    Brandon,
    There is no established protocol, but most are sealing a known size sample in a known size container, then measuring the resulting Radon in pCi/L. Taking a ratio of the volume of the container, the amount of Radon produced, and the square inches of surface tested, they come up with a number to compare granite types and samples.

    Some are complaining about the bowl over the meter method, but it is the same method as the emanation chamber described above. Only way to do it without taking a chunk out the countertop.

    8 pCi/sf/hr is an average low level granite. Once you get to 500 pCi/sf/L, one should be concerned about ventilation in the kitchen. If the air isn't moving, 500 pCi will put a kitchen at 5 pCi/L, 25% over the EPA action level.

    Even with enough ventillation, there is a concentrated dose when sitting at a granite island or penninsula. One of our Radon lab owners is on vacation, when he gets back, we plan on building a room and installing a full size granite countertop, a medium hot one, to see what it does. We will have a variable air flow and multiple tests to see what effect ventillation has. Multiple meters of multiple meters types will be placed at varying heights to record the variations.


    Were I in the inspection business, I would bring up the issue to my clients if for no other reason than to prevent an issue down the road. Air Chek, one of the largest Radon labs in the country is selling a countertop test kit. Four canisters, one under a foam dish directly on the granite, two hung from upper cabinet pulls, and one in the living room to provide background levels.

    No one is saying that all granites are bad, just that some are very bad. A simple test with a gieger counter or scintillator of the proper type, will do fine. Little radiation usually means little Radon. A $400 meter will do fine for low level granites, the high levels don't require great accuracy, too hot is too hot.


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