granite radioactivity? I know, I know

merrybookwyrmDecember 22, 2010

Locally there has been talk of granite countertops from certain (unknown to me) portions of the world that have proven to be... more radioactive than one would want in a house.

So... has anyone thought about this in regards to planting mixes?

My dh is rolling eyes about worrywarts...

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First, I haven't heard or read anything newsworthy regarding radioactivity of granite chips used in planting mediums. The granite chips most often used are originally intended to be fed to poultry as grit, aiding in digestion. These aren't reconstituted, ground up granite countertop pieces, or anything like that. They are bits of crushed rock mined from the earth.

Second, I own and use a microwave oven, have been x-rayed for possible broken bones in the past... and I'm exposed to so much in the way of synthetic petroleum based products and chemical toxins throughout the course of any given day, I consume processed foods, breathe polluted air, etc... it would seem silly for me to worry about something that I'm not even sure is a real factor.

If anyone can find information on the radioactivity of poultry grit, I'd be interested in reading it.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't worry about it, if that's what you want to do... I'm saying that with the average American lifestyle and all we're exposed to and all we ingest, it doesn't seem like poultry grit would be the biggest worry. :-)

    Bookmark   December 23, 2010 at 9:39AM
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Some granite has been shown to contain high levels of radiation. There is no way of knowing unless you have the granite tested. I don't believe testing is mandatory by law although there is a movement to make it so.

As far as chicken grit, just a guess, chickens are not children, usually live outdoors and their life span doesn't match ours.

If a home is found to have radon, it must be vented by law. Your concern is well founded.


    Bookmark   December 29, 2010 at 12:50AM
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You have a link confirming this, Jane? Or is this all supposition on your part?

I haven't seen anything in the news, or read anything that indicates granite chips for agricultural or horticultural use are radioactive. As I said, I'd be interested in reading the actual, factual information if someone can provide it.

I'm not sure how children fit into the equation, not having gizzards and not consuming grit... and I'm not sure what the life span of a chicken has to do with it, either. We're using the item for horticulture.

Again... provide vetted information, and I'd be happy to read and debate the issue... but for now, I'm not worried about something that might not even be an issue. Fearmongering is something I cannot and will not, in all good conscience, add to a message board.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2010 at 9:06AM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

I agree with you on so many points! I too have a microwave, have had many exrays. And the junk in our everyday lives far out weighs what might be in a little granite.

Links to back it all up would be interesting to read!

I haven't seen any chickens glowing in the dark, if I do, then i'll worry! lol!

Daddy always teases that radiation will make us glow. ;-)

    Bookmark   December 29, 2010 at 8:34PM
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"Some granite has been shown to contain high levels of radiation."

That is what I said, I didn't say anything about grit, just granite. Please don't put words in my mouth.

If you hang around the Kitchen Forums, you should find discussions about granite counter tops and concern about radiation. Just use the search to pull up posts.

There are people who get their granite slabs tested prior to installing in their kitchens where they and their families eat and live.

This is old news. There have been many articles and discussions about it over the years. Consumers Reports might have reported this a few years back.


    Bookmark   December 29, 2010 at 11:16PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

"Jim Hogan, president of the Marble Institute of America (MIA), released a statement to deny there was any link between granite countertops and radiation.

'Every time researchers have applied rigorous scientific standards to testing, the results have found that granite countertops pose no risk,' Hogan says. 'Repeated studies have found that granite is safe. Unfortunately, some recent junk science being reported as fact only serves to panic the public, not inform it.'"


"The newspaper also reports that, "Allegations that granite countertops may emit dangerous levels of radon and radiation have been raised periodically over the past decade, mostly by makers and distributors of competing countertop materials. The Marble Institute of America has said such claims are "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.

Indeed, health physicists and radiation experts agree that most granite countertops emit radiation and radon at extremely low levels. They say these emissions are insignificant compared with so-called background radiation that is constantly raining down from outer space or seeping up from the earth's crust, not to mention emanating from manmade sources like X-rays, luminous watches, and smoke detectors."


    Bookmark   December 30, 2010 at 1:07AM
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Thank you, Josh... I suspected as much. It's all a bunch of hooey designed to elicit a specific response... which it seems to have done.

I place this bit of fearmongering right up there with the latest on extremist right wing rhetoric concerning death panels, rationed health care, and the idea that the gay community is somehow responsible for the downfall of American marriage... totally ludicrous fallacies rooted in prejudice, hate, and fear.

Logic and common sense tell me that I have nothing to fear from the granite chips I use, or my kitchen countertop.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2010 at 3:29AM
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I am no expert, but when I was shopping for granite counter tops, everyone talks about radiation. Even in Home Depot. They like to say their granite has been certified radon free.

No one trusts the tests by the Marble Institute. Its like the cigarette companies saying smoking doesn't cause cancer. I believe I read in Europe, granite must be tested before installing in the home.

There are independent test and tests by the EPA. It is a fact that some granite does emit radiation. The OP is correct, it appears certain stones emit more than others and there is no way to know without testing. Apparently sealing the stone on all sides helps. Crushed stone is another story.

Radon is a problem in certain areas and is a cause of lung cancer. Homes must be tested for radon prior to sale. The movement is to now test granite before being used in homes as countertops, floors and in building materials.

I would look for studies done by someone other than the stone companies. Best to look for EPA studies, etc. I just don't know enough about it and whether it is truly a danger. As I wrote, I ran into the controversy when I was shopping for countertops. That's all the info I have. I didn't purchase granite for my home and did not pursue it any further.

Apparently, many people are concerned about it.


    Bookmark   December 30, 2010 at 10:32AM
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Cognitive thinking and common sense tell us that we shouldn't believe everything we hear. Unless scientifically documented as part of an unbiased, independent study, second hand information gleaned in the kitchen section of Home Depot is nothing more than hearsay.

In actually reading the information Josh provided, it becomes clear that the Marble Institute isn't the only organization throwing its information into the ring. Health physicists and radiation experts have also chimed in, letting us know that the radiation from outer space and from mankind's own inventions pose more of a threat... which appears to be minimal.

The reality here, is that we're not discussing kitchen countertops... we're talking about granite chips for use in horticulture.

I say yet again... if you can find vetted information to support your opinion, I'd be happy to read it and make my own determination. Otherwise, it's nothing but hearsay that looks suspiciously like fearmongering.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2010 at 11:45AM
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ykerzner(9 TX)

Jane_NY - If everybody believes something to be true, does that make it true? So many gardening books still prescribe putting clay shards at the bottom of containers to improve drainage, despite that assumption being totally false and worsening the situation. Are they still right?

    Bookmark   December 30, 2010 at 12:33PM
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i don't have to worry about granite because i use coir peatmos and perlite and my counter are made of marble. i am not sure about my foundation thou. very helpful warnings

Plant 48

    Bookmark   December 30, 2010 at 6:45PM
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Found this wiith a quick Google-

"....Other researchers and organizations do not agree with the Marble Institute's stated position on granite safety, including AARST (American Association of Radon Scientists and Technicians) and the CRCPD (Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors, an organization of state radiation protection officials). Both organizations have committees currently setting maximum allowed levels of radiation/radon as well as protocols for measuring radiation/radon from granite countertops. The European Union regulations will likely serve as the basis for new EPA based regulations for granite building materials in the U.S."


Here is a link that might be useful: More info

    Bookmark   January 1, 2011 at 2:24AM
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Except... this isn't the home remodel forum, and the subject isn't radon gas or kitchen countertops.

From your link... "Many of these studies have demonstrated an association between residential exposure to radon and lung cancer, but this finding has not been observed in all studies. The inconsistencies between studies are due in part to the small size of some studies, the varying levels of radon in many homes, and the difficulty of measuring a person�s exposure to radon over time."

The issue at hand is whether or not granite chips used in horticulture are anything to worry about... and the information provided so far would indicate there is NOT.

Utilizing a discussion on poultry grit granite chips to cause unnecessary worry about a minuscule risk to something everyone is continually exposed to would be called fearmongering.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2011 at 6:53AM
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I didn't initiate anything! I answered a question posted and SAID I heard about it regarding kitchen counter-tops. You were the one asking for PROOF and on and on.

Because of your incessant questions, I looked further. The tests show that miners of uranium stone, which granite contains, have very high levels of lung cancer. This is due to breathing the dust from the stone in the mines.

If you read the EPA studies, which I will link, you will understand why radiation seeping into a home is more dangerous than radiation from outer space. A home is sealed and the levels build up inside. Homes register high levels of radon and breathing it can cause long cancer. Outdoor radiation is not involved, it is the constant gas entering the home.

You were implying that I was making up information. If you had taken even a minute to Google, you would have saved yourself a lot of trouble trying to discredit me as usual. As I said, this is old news, anyone planning to put granite in their homes are aware of the possible dangers. I have no idea if that would involve grit. If I were using any stone which produced dust, I would take precautions as it is the particles of dust which lodge in the lungs. Microwaves don't produce dust.

Instead of asking me to prove everything, why not do a little research yourselves before accusing people of falsifying information?

Again, the original poster asked a valid question. She had a concern about radiation and the use of granite inside her home. Her questions could have opened a interesting discussion about the topic. Instead it turned into a nasty, accusatory attack on me. This type of dialog only makes new posters flee.


Here is a link that might be useful: Maryland Geological Survey

    Bookmark   January 1, 2011 at 2:50PM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

Well I am convinced. That old granite headstone I have been saving since 1960, I had planned to grind into chicken grit, I will now save for its original purpose. Al

    Bookmark   January 2, 2011 at 8:49AM
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Well, if you plan on using it as a grave stone, radon won't matter by


    Bookmark   January 2, 2011 at 10:57AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Al, thanks for the gallows humor! Brightened my morning! ;)

I think Mike has made an accurate assessment of the situation.
The dangers of radon in the kitchen are hyperbolic, but that's not the issue.
The issue is that the fear-mongering is a tangential attack on the potting mixes
that incorporate granite. If we keep the topic on target, we quickly realize that there
is a very, very, very low (miniscule) risk of radon in a mix.

Another point that I'd like to address, and I apologize for not returning to this
topic sooner:

"No one trusts the tests by the Marble Institute.
Its like the cigarette companies saying smoking doesn't cause cancer.
I believe I read in Europe, granite must be tested before installing in the home."

- Plenty of folks do trust the Marble Institute. Speaking in absolutes is seldom accurate.
- In this case, it would be more accurate to say that this is like Cigarette Companies saying
that smoking doesn't cause "all" the cancers that are attributed to smoking....

Further, the EPA is a garbage agency. Many, many folks mistrust the EPA and the harms
it has caused by enacting policy based on hyperbolic, uncorroborated, and junk science.
It is ironic to point the finger at the Marble Institute, while lauding the EPA.

Again: Granite chips, in containers, pose an insignificant risk to users.
To add: when sifting any ingredients - peat, turface, perlite, quartz,
coco, or bark - always use caution to avoid inhaling fine particulate.

Practice common sense.


    Bookmark   January 2, 2011 at 2:35PM
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Good point Josh and sometimes common sense has to be explained
Being that some of the carcinogenic potting ingredient cautions are real and maybe being exaggerated for others. I would think for those of concern it would be okay for them to use a face mask while sifting thou the carcinogenic/radioactive items as a CAUTION for there long term health concerns.

Example: Just because I think it's a silly over exaggerated protective caution to wear a mask in a clean sanitary hospital emergency room doesn't mean someone else has to have the same belief as I do. A face mask is an offering from this area and a persons choice to use or not.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2011 at 3:57PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Exactly. I moisten Perlite to avoid the dust.
I also rinse Turface and Pumice, which both have fine dust.
Bark is usually moist, so I don't worry so much there.

I know that I get more wood dust in my lungs when I stack firewood than I do when I make potting mix.

Sitting in traffic, breathing exhaust, is most likely a far greater risk than radio-active granite.
Let alone risking one's life merely *driving* on the roads....


    Bookmark   January 2, 2011 at 4:24PM
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The OP expressed concern. Whether its founded or not is the question. It is up to her to research and do what she's comfortable with. I don't see any fear-mongering. She asked a question about a topic which is valid.

Everyone has their own comfort level.

I was interested in granite counter-tops. I love them and we were fixing up our kitchen. I shopped around for them. I never heard anything about radiation until I started looking for information and prices. That was 3 years ago.

I felt a little concern, but thought it was probably nonsense until my daughter (pregnant with my second granddaughter) said she would never put granite 'anything' in her house and if I put it in she would not visit. Her research lead her to believe granite counters could pose a risk to her unborn child.

I don't know if it is or not. It was not my call. There are many articles regarding it and people who are interested need to do their own research and draw their own conclusions, as my daughter did.

The OP was probably a young woman and had a real concern. That is what these forums are for. She came to the Container Forum to ask a valid question about an ingredient in a mix. This entire thread has gone so off-topic it is not helpful to anyone.


    Bookmark   January 2, 2011 at 4:36PM
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Which post and comments? I apologize but I don't recognize your username nor remember any posts.


    Bookmark   January 2, 2011 at 9:57PM
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ykerzner(9 TX)

Greenman28: You rinse the Turface? Does it stay as malleable and separate as wet granite? Do you rinse to get the really fine dust out or to get the 1/16" size particles out?

    Bookmark   January 2, 2011 at 11:51PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

the original poster expressed a desire for more information.

You were the person who sounded the alarum by stating that her "concern" was well founded.

As far as I can tell, the original poster didn't express any significant concern.
I didn't get the feeling that she was losing any sleep over it.

I, for one, don't think this Thread has been taken off-topic. There is a great deal
of valuable information posted here. Some of the most valuable information, in fact,
doesn't have to do with granite chips but with how to identify a valid concern and how
to recognize mass-market hysteria.

Ykerzner, yes, I rinse the Turface just to remove the fine dust.
When wet, it does tend to "stick together," so I like to let it dry a bit before using.

Yesterday, I made a gritty mix for a couple succulents.
I mixed my ingredients, put them in a container, and set them beside the fireplace.
This morning, all the moisture had equalized between the ingredients and the Turface
was nice and loose again - which made it easier to work between the roots of the succulents.


    Bookmark   January 3, 2011 at 12:53AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Just wanted to clarify something...
In my last paragraph above, I said that I mixed ingredients and put them in a container, and set them beside the fireplace.
The "them" meant the ingredients of the mix - not the succulents themselves.
I hope I didn't confuse anyone.


    Bookmark   January 3, 2011 at 2:16PM
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