NBC's "Today Show" aired a segment on granite countertops today, and while the implied connection between granite and dangerous levels of radon is never positive, this piece at least included input from both sides of the issue. Bill Llope, the same Rice University physics professor that has spoken out against granite recently, was featured and spoke of the potential hazards of some granites. But in the Today Show segment, Jack McCarthy, a consultant who works with the natural stone industry and was hired by the Marble Institute of America (MIA), explained that the amounts of radiation that come from the 70+ granites his group has tested thus far is too minute to affect humans once mixed with the atmosphere. The reporter, Natalie Morales, also noted that "health experts say the risk has been totally overblown," and a quote from the Environmental Protection Agency was read aloud and shown on the screen, confirming that "most types of granite . . . are not typically known to be major contributors of radiation and radon in the average home." These comments were sadly missing from previous articles and news segments on this issue.
It was also nice to see coverage of the industry's reaction to the concern, stating that the granite industry is working on procedures to test all slabs before they are sold. The MIA was actively involved in re-shaping the "Today Show" segment, encouraging independent credible sources to contact NBC directly and share their opinions and concerns, and the organization was also in touch with the segment producers in a successful effort to eliminate some of the more inflammatory language that was in the original version that NBC planned to air.
Luckily, the homeowner (who was the focus from the consumer side) spent her time on camera at her granite kitchen island with her kids, all seemingly comfortable around the stone.
But while the "Today Show" piece was more balanced, many mainstream media reports have not been as thorough -- seeking to draw interest simply by inferring a dangerous situation. Due to these scare tactics, the need for more testing and information to support granite as a building material is greater than ever. To help the MIA fight this battle on behalf of our industry, please consider donating to the "Truth About Granite" Fund. For more information about donating to this fund, visit www.marble-institute.com or call 1-440-250-9222.
Reaction to the Today Show segment on granite countertops
September 4, 2008