Thursday, July 24, 2008

The hidden cost of luxury

The NYTimes reported today that some types of granite countertops, whose presence is now ubiquitous in upgraded kitchens, are contain uncomfortably high amounts of uranium, which emits radon as it decays. For those of us who live in homes with cheap landlords, we only have to worry about roaches and uninsulated attics, but those with a history of cancer or high risk for the disease might have reason to get their luxury finishes tested.

Why is it the norm to assume a substance is safe until proven otherwise? I understand that we can never prove something is safe beyond any shadow of a doubt, but when you're dealing with a natural stone mined from the Earth, I would think that wondering if it were radioactive wouldn't be that far-fetched. But one expert in the article says that they don't even know the provenance of the granite being imported into this country right now.

Lesson for now? Beware exotics, folks. It's better for the planet to stick close to home anyway. And if you're worried, get your granite tested. Maybe go with concrete for your next renovation. That's a super green kitchen finish and pretty trendy, too.

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