04 August 2008

More on the radiation NON-story

Last week, I wrote about the New York times article that claimed falsely that granite countertops were somehow dangerously radioactive. In a case of anecdotes trumping evidence, the Times article didn't enlighten, it alarmed. In the course of the last week, the story grew legs and now it seems that everywhere I look online, I see a reference to that article. The Marble Institute of America had this to say:
In the past few days, a television video has circulated online that has created widespread consumer confusion and concern about radiation levels occurring in
natural granites used for residential countertops. The report suggests some countertops may pose health risks, ignoring years of legitimate and independent scientific research that has concluded that natural stone is perfectly safe to use in homes.

It’s misleading to even hint that we would knowingly sell a product that might harm consumers! The report was prompted by a group that claims to be independent, but is actually funded by two companies that manufacture synthetic stone countertops made of quartz gravel, resins, coloring agents and other chemicals.

Unlike these competing synthetic products, granite is not manufactured in a plant by combining quartz gravel, resins, coloring agents and other chemicals. Throughout the years, consumers have been drawn to natural stone’s beauty, durability, cleanliness and safety.

It’s outrageous that manufacturers of synthetic stone countertops would use a front
group like this to scare consumers. It is also alarming that manufacturers of a
competing product feel they can only compete by groundlessly creating fear about
natural stone, which is safe, beautiful and superior.
In the last paragraph of their statement, the Institute mentions a "front group" used by the "manufacturers of synthetic stone countertops." The group they're talking about is something called the Solid Surface Alliance and their website is here. There are probably other groups such as that one, but I hope not. The Solid Surface Alliance claims that it exists "to provide consumers information on solid surface counter tops, as well as the other uses of solid surface." With that out of their system, the rest of their large website is dedicated solely to blowing smoke and spreading mis-information. It reads like something that Bill O'Reilly would come up with. The hysterical tone, the manipulated statistics and missing contexts are straight out of the Fox News guidebook. They beat the radon drum incessantly of course and even go so far as to link the purchase of natural stone to supporting the Taliban. It's sad, really.

If you have concerns about the radioactivity of household granite, please spend some time reading the Marble Institute of America's website. Rational thinking and facts ought to trump all, but unfortunately that doesn't always happen.


  1. Hello... I enjoy reading your blog. Your topics cover a relevant variety of issues. This blog about granite's apparently false radioactivity is particularly interesting because it speaks to the quality and fidelity of information, as much as it relates to the source of that information. One can see how a "front group" would put forth false dribble but the New York Times? What is their culpability here? Why didn't you lamb-baste them like you did that other group?

  2. Why did you hyphenate lambaste?


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