The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 8 No. 49 - August 27, 2008

REAL ESTATE


Radon in granite imports worrisome

Well let’s see, it’s hurricane season, the Anna Maria Island Bridge is getting ready to shut down, gas is still around $4 a gallon and last time I checked the terrorists were still out to get us. At least we Floridians could always take some solace in the fact that there isn’t much radon under our feet – one less thing in a dangerous world to worry about. Not so fast. You might be hard pressed to find radon contaminating our sandy soil, but if you look about four feet off the ground, you might be surprised.

According to Wikipedia, radon is the invisible, radioactive atomic gas that results from radioactive decay of some forms of uranium that may be found in rock formations beneath buildings or in certain building materials. It is a colorless and ordorless gas and is, therefore, not readily detectable by humans.

In addition, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, after smoking, and is especially dangerous to children and developing fetuses. Sections of the country that are built on rock and do not have Florida’s sandy soil are far more likely to contain radon gases. Homes in these areas are routinely tested for radon gas leakage prior to the sale of the property.

So what’s the problem, not much rock in Florida? Well, it now it appears that the popularity of granite countertops, which has grown in the last decade, is presenting homeowners with the potential of bringing radon right into their kitchens and bathrooms.

As the demand has ballooned so have the variety of granite available with some companies offering as much as 900 kinds of granite from 63 countries. And, therein, lays the problem.

The increase in volume and diversity of granites has introduced more exotic and striated varieties from all over the world that haven’t been seen before. Some of these varieties are testing "hot" for radon; that is they contain high levels of uranium, which is radioactive and releases radon gas as it decays. Brazil and Namibia are two of the countries whose granite imports could contain high levels of radon.

As in all disputes regarding health, there are always varying opinions. Allegations that granite countertops may emit dangerous levels of radon and radiation have been raised since their popularity has increased. The granite industry’s position is that the amount of dangerous gases is not enough to pose a health threat. Most health physicists and radiation experts agree, at the same time pointing out that there is no known safe level of radon or radiation and any exposure could increase your health risk.

Nevertheless, the Environmental Protection Agency increasingly has been receiving calls from homeowners and radon inspectors about granite countertops with high radiation levels. There has been so much chatter about an emerging problem that the Marble Institute of American plans to develop a testing protocol for granite in order to present scientific facts to potential customers. And it hasn’t taken long for the personal injury lawyers to get on board with Web advertising for clients who think they may have been injured by countertops.

If you’re concerned about your granite countertops, you can have them tested for about $200. The American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists (aarst.org) provides a list of certified technicians. You can also purchase a do-it-yourself radon only testing kit at hardware stores or online from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Web site. These home kits do not, however, test for radiation.

I don’t know if this issue has any real legs and if it will have any future affect on the sale of homes with granite countertops. It’s just one more thing to worry about and one more decision to make when renovating or purchasing a home. When did living get so complicated?

Real Estate Transactions
Closed sales between May 19 to June 13, 2008

Anna Maria

83 North Shore Drive        Single family       $775,000
208 Lakeview Drive        Single family         585,000
715 Holly Rd.        Single family        550,000
110 Cedar Ave.        Single family         462,200
701 N. Bay Blvd.        Single family         419,100
515 Spring Ave.        Single family        405,000

Bradenton Beach

1104 Gulf Drive N.        Single family        $1,425,000
200 Gulf Drive S. #1        Condo         750,000
104 Gulf Drive S. #104        Condo                 460,000
2700 Gulf Drive N. #207         Condo         450,000
107 Eighth St. S. #8        Condo         330,000
1007 Gulf Drive N. #213         Condo         300,000
2114 Ave. A        Lot         225,000
1801 Gulf Dr. N. #271        Condo         210,000
2116 Ave A        Single family         185,000
1000 Gulf Drive N. #6        Condo         168,900
204 Church Ave. #13        Condo         130,000

Cortez

4412 125 St. W.        Trailer park         $9,500,000

Holmes Beach

6006 Gulf Drive        #109        Condo         $1,220,000
503 69th St.        Single family         950,000
6700 Gulf Drive #20        Condo         600,000
117 Neptune Lane        Duplex         565,000
3208 Sixth Ave.        Condo         455,000
201 35th St. #6         Condo         447,500
108 49th St. N.         Half duplex         375,000
402 Clark Lane        Duplex         360,000
6500 Flotilla Drive #186         Condo         314,000
3402 Sixth Ave. #3        Condo         305,000
204 54th St.        Duplex         300,000
6300 Flotilla Drive. #76         Condo 227,300

Source: Manatee County Property Appraiser’s Office


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