on best manufacturing practices to
The article smears our industry. We
request that you revisit the issue of
granite safety and the significant studies
that prove it.
Concern over radioactive granite captures
the news from time to time. In 1995,
MIA published “Granite & Radon—The
Truth” (D. Langmuir). That study based
its calculations on granite containing
just 4 ppm uranium. Linda Kincaid’s
client’s Jupurana Bordeaux countertops
contained 282 ppm uranium. Reputable
scientists have published data on granite
with considerably greater uranium concentration.
Last year, MIA spent around $500,000
funding the studies that were published
in The Journal of Exposure Science and
Environmental Epidemiology. Those
studies evaluated “stone that comprises
approximately 80 percent of the annual
U.S. market share for granite countertops.” The MIA-funded study concluded
that 80 percent of the granite on the
market does not present a health risk to
homeowners. On several occasions, we
have encouraged MIA to address concerns about the remaining 20 percent of
granite on the market, granite like the
Jupurana Bordeaux that found its way
into Kincaid’s client’s home.
Dr. Daniel Steck of Saint John’s University, Dr. Michael Kitto of New York
Department of Public Health, Dr. Paul
Kotrappa of Rad Elec, Inc., and Dr.
William Llope of Rice University have
examined some of the more radioactive
granites. Steck, Kitto, and Kotrappa have
published their findings, and they have
presented for several years at American
Association of Radon Scientists and
Technologists (AARST) symposia. Copies
of their papers, as well as other relevant
presentations, are posted on the AARST
website ( www.aarst.org/radon_research_
Kitto and Steck do not consider most
countertop granite to pose a substantial
health risk to homeowners. However,
their research indicates that about 5 percent of the market share might not be
appropriate for a home. Homeowners
may experience increased external
gamma dose from their granite. Some
homeowners have increased radon concentration in their homes.
However, the far greater hazard is
faced by fabricators. Granite fabricators
working without respiratory protection
can inhale substantial doses of insoluble
uranium, thorium, and their progeny.
Fine granite particulate becomes trapped
in the air exchange region of the lung,
where it emits alpha particles in very
close proximity to delicate lung tissue.
Lung tissue is particularly sensitive to
damage by alpha radiation.
To our knowledge, we are the only
investigators to measure uranium expo-
sures and radiation dose associated with
granite fabrication. Cal/OSHA issued a
2004 warning about crystalline silica
exposure in granite fabrication. Federal
OSHA has also expressed concerns
about hazards in granite fabrication.
But in 2009, we still found granite fab-
ricators working in clouds of dust,
often without respiratory protection.
Most granite workers we interviewed
were completely unaware of either sil-
ica or radiation hazards. Many were
afraid to approach their employers for
respiratory protection. MIA could best
serve their members by educating them
about respiratory hazards and encour-
aging voluntary protection.
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