Do Granite Countertops Emit Radiation? Is It Harmful?

Granite countertops are really popular and they’ve been around for a long time. However, recently, there has been news flying around that these natural stone countertops are radioactive. Is there any truth to granite countertops being radioactive? Here’s what you need to know about it.

Radiation & Its Harmful Effects

The Earth is full of radioactive metals and substances. Uranium, plutonium, thorium, and even lead is found in the many layers of our planet. These metals can be extremely harmful to human health and if it’s mixed with resources like water, sand, and air, then the results can be detrimental.

Radioactive substances and metals are extremely unstable and they tend to emit certain rays to stabilize. Those rays are commonly known as radioactive rays or simply radiation. These rays can penetrate through almost anything and everything and the scary part is that it is not felt by humans or animals.

Radioactive rays can have a multitude of side effects and those include:

  • Abnormal changes or deformation
  • Miscarriages or still-birth in pregnant women
  • Defects of the face
  • Abnormal changes in the cell structure
  • Cancer and other vigorous disorders
  • Stomach issues like ulcers and chronic pain

Radioactive rays are a combination of certain rays and each of them has severe effects when it comes to human health. Radioactive rays consist of:

  • Alpha rays (positively charged or have an abundance of protons)
  • Beta rays (negatively charged or have an abundance of electrons)
  • Gamma rays (neutral rays with no charge)

Granite Countertops & Radiation

Granite is essentially an igneous rock that is made by solidifying molten rocks when cooled. These rocks can endure high temperatures and pressures that’s why they are used for various purposes like flooring and countertops.

However, there has been speculation and certain cases that granite is, in fact, not at all good for your health. This has caused a considerable blow to the rock’s reputation because emissions from granite sound downright terrifying. This was brought to light when granite was included in the conversation about radon emissions. Some tests and theories even found out that there are lethal emissions coming from the stone and this caused a whole debacle to take place and people were genuinely concerned.

Radon is a radioactive gas that is colorless and odorless. Radon is produced when uranium breaks down chemically as it surfaces on the ground. Since, natural stones are also quarried from the ground, these rocks, especially granite can likely contain trace amounts of radon and can be emitted in plain sight.

Uranium that seeps out of the ground is sporadically found in certain areas. This implies that whenever there is granite, there won’t necessarily be a seep of radioactive metals, but where there is uranium and granite in close vicinity, then it’s possible that granite can get “poisoned” by the seeping uranium. Because of this, radon can penetrate in the rock.

Since granite is a natural stone, it’s also porous, so any fluid, whether it’s a liquid or gas, can easily find its way into the rock, without a lot of effort. This is also another supporting factor that granite can emit harmful radiation because of its characteristic porous nature and that is frightening, if you think about it.

Are All Granite Countertops Radioactive?

Things can blow out of proportion very quickly, especially if it’s something horrific like radon emission, or something coupled with the prefix “radioactive”. Does this mean that all granite countertops are capable of emitting radiation? Well, that’s not exactly true. While it can be a possibility that granite may contain minute quantities of radioactive substances, it is not always going to emit radiation.

A case-by-case approach is more suitable to support this claim. These allegations, related to granite and radioactivity, are not new. They have been around for a long time and even though some people might believe the fact, at face value, a lot of individuals want studies and proof to be able to understand the situation.

A very common theme that some studies have shown over the years regarding granite and radiation, is the veining of the countertop. Granite has very distinct and beautiful veining on the surface and while most of it can be molten rocks, mixed with mica, it is believed that these traces of random lines might also contain uranium, thorium, and plutonium, all of which can decay into radon causing lung cancer. The thicker and more prominent the veins are, the higher the possibility of radiation.

Radiation From Granite Countertops Is Negligible

However, this study needs a bit more support from research and observations before it can be deemed correct. It is a known fact that radiation emitted from granite doesn’t contribute to the annual world radiation percentage and it’s extremely minute. Instead, it has been found that radon found in the soil is far more lethal to human health than that found in natural stone countertops.

This allegation is also used as a marketing gimmick by other competing countertop material retails and manufacturers because undoubtedly, granite is the king of countertop materials and its popularity can’t be toppled over that easily. So, retailers and manufacturers use the next best tactic: creating rumors that might frighten people.

Can You Test For Granite Radiation?

While granite doesn’t contain a lot of radiation-causing metals or substances, it’s still important that you test your countertops for radon emissions. This can be done pretty easily. You can either call in a professional radon testing technician for your countertops, or you can also get radon testers from your local health stores. Although the former option is recommended more because the results will be precise and more believable.

Usually, the radon test is done either in the kitchen or in neighboring rooms and the air is tested for radon. The device uses calibration and highly meticulous measuring capability to sense the presence of radon. It is recommended to all granite countertop owners that they should get their countertops tested, if there is even a blip of worry in their minds so that once the results are in their hands, they can either breathe a sigh of relief or get down to business to decrease the elevated levels of radon in the countertops as well as in the air.

What To Do?

So, you tested your countertops for radon and the results show elevated levels. Aside from being alarmed, a burning question in your mind might be: Well, how do I get rid of radon? No, you won’t have to remove your countertops, so if that’s what you were wondering, then you can stop fretting over it.

There are devices available that act as filters for radon and they can be installed in the kitchen or other rooms and the gas can be eliminated by this nifty contraption. The device essentially removes radon from the air. So, it kind of works like an air purifier, but specialized for lethal radioactive emissions.


Although it is possible that there could be trace quantities of uranium and other radioactive elements in granite, but to label it as “destructive” and “deadly” is a bit far-fetched. Still, if you want to be careful, ask granite contractors Rockville for granite slabs that don’t emit any radiation when choosing granite slabs for your kitchen island or countertops. And in case you want to avoid granite, you can go for quartz countertops.