Counter Clicks

   Radon popped up again on the online radar this week, with a small-but-constant blip when Web surfers looked for granite-countertop topics.
   The new source of interest came on March 14, when the Minneapolis Star-Tribune published “Is That Granite in Your Home Emitting Radon?” The article by home-and-garden beat writer Kim Palmer centered on the possibility of a countertop producing dangerous levels of radon in a home, but also noted that it’s rare. (The articles subhed is, “Fears about granite surfaces are largely unfounded, experts say, but a test can quell homeowners' worries.”)
   The article also detailed the Minnesota Radon Project’s recent interest in the radon/countertop issue. The 27-year study of background and residential radon levels, operated through St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn., began work in February to measure radon levels in homes with exotic or high-movement granite.
   Others appearing in the article include William Llope, the Rice University professor who originally tested kitchen countertops for KHOU-TV’s report last year on the radon controversy, and is now continuing his investigation of granite; and Linda Kincaid, a Saratoga, Calif.-based industrial hygenist.
   Kincaid’s writing about granite countertops earlier this year on the Green Building Elements Website drew a response from the New York public-relations firm hired by the Marble Institute of America; her articles noted problems in dealing with granite-shop owners over on-the-spot radon testing, although another of the Website pieces spotlighted California residences where installed granite wasn’t the problem in elevated radon levels.
   The Star-Tribune also included Peter Martin, Cambria’s director of marketing, who didn’t believe the radon controversy is a positive for the quartz-surfaces manufacturer.
   “Quite the opposite,” he said. “Most consumers don't have all the information. I worry this will drive them away.”

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