Published on February 2nd, 2009 | by Linda Kincaid, MPH, CIH
Hostile Granite Showrooms Refuse to Discuss Radiation
Erica Marcus declared, “I was basically thrown out of a showroom today for mentioning radiation to the owner”. “This tells a lot about the industry knowing about what they are selling.”
Erica and her husband are shopping for granite countertops, and Erica is asking questions about radiation. They are both “serious cooks”, and they have two young children. They do not want any chance of increased radiation in their kitchen, but Erica found that granite showrooms do not welcome her questions.
A San Francisco showroom asked Erica to leave. A South San Francisco showroom initially welcomed her questions, but the tone quickly became uncomfortable.“Welcome, let’s talk about your concerns, but when the conversation got technical and she realized I knew more than the average customer, she pulled me off the floor and into her cubicle/office. She…admitted there would be a few stones that would register on their meter and they were for sale with nothing posted about the potential danger…” “she didn’t know the difference between radiation and radon”
Cathy Woods relayed similar experiences a few months earlier. The same South San Francisco showroom told her, “It is the customer’s responsibility to know about what they buy”. A showroom in Hayward, CA told Cathy that none of their granite was more radioactive that soil or water. Some of the most radioactive granite we have found was in that Hayward showroom.
My own experiences are not unlike those of Erica and Cathy. A San Jose, CA showroom manager told me last August, “This is all propaganda from Silestone”. When I showed him radioactive Niagara Gold granite in his showroom, he insisted, “a sealer will take care of it”. As few minutes later, an assistant asked me to leave the premises.
I was back in that San Jose showroom a few months later, scanning granite for a client. The showroom staff kept me waiting nearly two hours. First, they said they had no record of the client. Then they said they could not find his granite. The manager was quite rude and seemed to prefer losing a customer, rather than allow an industrial hygienist to scan his granite.
A different showroom in Hayward, CA flatly refused to let me scan granite for a client at their site. The manager told the client, “You are not bringing your science device in here”. The client transported his slabs to the fabricator, where I conducted the scan. Two of his three slabs were more radioactive than he wanted.
I have scanned about 1000 slabs of granite since last July, when the NY Times published an article on radioactive granite. Most of those slabs emitted very little radiation. However, a small percentage emitted gamma radiation at many times background. Some of those stones contained as much uranium as uranium ore. Given a choice, most homeowners would not opt for uranium ore in their kitchens. Many granite showrooms do not give their customers the option of making that choice.
Photo by Linda Kincaid.