Assessing exposure to granite countertops--Part 2: Radon

J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2010 May;20(3):263-72. doi: 10.1038/jes.2009.43. Epub 2009 Aug 26.


Radon gas ((222)Rn) is a natural constituent of the environment and a risk factor for lung cancer that we are exposed to as a result of radioactive decay of radium ((226)Ra) in stone and soil. Granite countertops, in particular, have received recent media attention regarding their potential to emit radon. Radon flux was measured on 39 full slabs of granite from 27 different varieties to evaluate the potential for exposure and examine determinants of radon flux. Flux was measured at up to six pre-selected locations on each slab and also at areas identified as potentially enriched after a full-slab scan using a Geiger-Muller detector. Predicted indoor radon concentrations were estimated from the measured radon flux using the CONTAM indoor air quality model. Whole-slab average emissions ranged from less than limit of detection to 79.4 Bq/m(2)/h (median 3.9 Bq/m(2)/h), similar to the range reported in the literature for convenience samples of small granite pieces. Modeled indoor radon concentrations were less than the average outdoor radon concentration (14.8 Bq/m(3); 0.4 pCi/l) and average indoor radon concentrations (48 Bq/m(3); 1.3 pCi/l) found in the United States. Significant within-slab variability was observed for stones on the higher end of whole slab radon emissions, underscoring the limitations of drawing conclusions from discrete samples.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants, Radioactive / adverse effects
  • Air Pollutants, Radioactive / analysis*
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / adverse effects
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / analysis*
  • Construction Materials* / adverse effects
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis*
  • Environmental Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Housing
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology
  • Radiometry
  • Radon / adverse effects
  • Radon / analysis*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Silicon Dioxide* / adverse effects
  • Silicon Dioxide* / chemistry
  • United States


  • Air Pollutants, Radioactive
  • granite
  • Silicon Dioxide
  • Radon