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MIA radon update

August 6, 2008
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CLEVELAND, OH -- The Marble Institute of America reports that it has been working diligently over the past week to fight the fallout from the New York Times article, which insinuated that granite countertops emit a harmful amount of radon. The MIA also stated that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has modified some of the statements it made last week in support of granite countertops. While it is true that coverage and blog postings have slowed somewhat, the MIA has been extremely busy identifying and developing spokespersons and material needed to defend the natural stone industry from this unnecessary panic.

Unfortunately, the MIA does not expect the attacks on granite to end soon. Opponents have learned that partial truths, portrayed out of context, often gain media attention. "What continues to frustrate us most, however, is that the efforts by opponents of granite seem less aimed at truly protecting the public than simply destroying the industry and the jobs we support," said Jim Hogan, MIA President.

Given that much of the material the MIA has shared with its members has found its way to public Web sites, it is being cautious in disseminating details of its plan of action, according to Hogan. "However, I want to clearly state that the Marble Institute of America is making very serious, comprehensive efforts to protect the granite industry -- as well as its consumers," he said. "We fear it is no coincidence that Cambria and Silestone both issued advertisements and announcements in the last week that their products are 'certified' to be radon-free just as the public furor over this issue boiled over. And we are saddened that anyone would attempt to prey on public fears -- particularly those generated through the dissemination of misleading information -- to benefit financially from the consumer panic."

To correct the record and allay groundless fears, the MIA has reported what it has done during the past week:

 
  • Identified several scientists who are experts in indoor environmental assessments, associated with some of the nation's finest academic institutions and prepared to provide the context, scientific grounding and clarity to eliminate confusion generated by our attackers.
  • Developed scientific analyses that put the situation in perspective and demonstrate how outrageous some of the media coverage has been. The analyses make clear that some of what has passed for "science" in media reports has, in fact, been incredibly out of line and unreliable.
  • Prepared material that industry members can use in explaining the facts to their customers. 
  • Launched an effort to create videos that the MIA hopes to provide to industry members in the next two weeks, which help to dispel fears and inject some much-needed common sense and science into what has unfortunately been fear mongering. 
  • Contacted several other industry associations, which have uniformly expressed support for the efforts that are being undertaken. 
  • Begun developing a full-blown campaign aimed at moving past the MIA's defense of the industry, into proactive action. 
  • Finalized many of the details to establish recognized scientific standards for testing granite -- and won at least preliminary support from the EPA to engage in the process, to ensure the standards meet federal government approval. 
  • Updated many colleagues around the world about MIA activities, and gained strong support from the international stone community. 


The MIA recognizes that many industry members are dealing with customer concerns. "I hope the materials we provide will be useful," said Hogan. "However, I suspect [industry members] may need additional sources of information -- including some independent sources. To that end, I would like to recommend that, [anyone who] wishes to refer customers to an independent Web site that provides a rational discussion of the radon realities, they refer them to http://www.radon.com/radon/granite.html. They will find a special page posted just last week by Air Chek, Inc., one of America's largest providers of radon test kits. I think [people] will find the page to be both useful and calming to their customers. We spoke to the company this week and learned that its inquiries have risen significantly in the past week. However, despite the fact that Air Chek benefits financially from radon testing, the company's executives are distressed that so many people are driven by needless fears. That is clearly reflected on the page linked above.

As you know, the MIA does not have the resources in place to undertake this kind of aggressive defense of the industry. We need [the industry's] financial support. I hope [members] will help us protect our industry's good name by writing a check to the Marble Institute of America/Truth About Granite Fund. Those checks can be sent to the Marble Institute of America, 28901 Clemens Road, Suite 100, Cleveland, OH 44145. Over 100 companies from around the world have already contributed, and that support is very much appreciated.

"Please understand that this is a fight for our business lives," continued Hogan. "Attackers clearly seek more than to simply increase their own sales; they are trying to cripple this industry. We will continue to notify [the industry] of our progress in the weeks to come."

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