Wow, stunning hypocrisy. The Marble Institute of America (MIA) has announced that Schechner Lifson Corp., a preferred provider of insurance and safety management services for the stone industry, is introducing a pollution liability policy which includes coverage for radon damages.
“This policy will enable fabricators, installers and distributors to insulate themselves and their businesses in the event of a suit or loss in cases involving radon and silica.”
““Considering the current issue regarding possible radon emissions from granite countertops, this new policy is very important for the industry,”
The Insurance company requires a three year policy, and needs to see the last three years loss history on a company before issuing a policy. Limits available for the pollution coverage range from $1,000,000 per occurrence up to $10,000,000, with a $5000 deductible. The cost starts at $3000 per year. Limits on Radon exposure were not given.
Seems the MIA is thinking this Radon controversy might affect the bottom line and is advocating procuring insurance, just in case….
Some in the industry complained that I compared the Stone Fabricators Alliance (SFA) to the Aryan Brotherhood. Of course the comparison wasn’t about racism, but the propensity of both groups to use strong arm tactics in advancing their goals.
Here are some quotes from one of their many threads on their forum on this subject. I’ve added a few comments in bold type.
“In my opinion the only way to fight the lies which have been spewed about granite, is to use the same media/mediums which brought them to light in first place such as The Today Show and NYT and CBS ect. ect. ”
“We called MIA today to find out when we will see Mr. Hogan, as the president of the number 1 authority on natural stone in America, on national television? The answer we got was ” We offered to come on and hope it will happen ”
“We have supplied information to these media sources. They are choosing to ignore much of what we have to say. ”
“Jim Hogan and many others have offered their time and expertise to the media, only to have it edited out. Many more have written letters to the editor demanding satisfaction. ” As in a duel?
“The way I posted may sound hard (edit) but I’m pissed off!! 2 days after they ran that crap on the Today show I lost a job because the costumer got scared of granite. How about somebody sue these media outlets who allowed this to be aired, that will bring attention to our side of the story instantly. MIA have said they have lawyers on this, so when are they going to do something? ” I would say this gentleman lost a sale because he would’t test his stone.
“That being said. SUE SOMEBODY. Punch somebody in the nose! And let me know where the rumble is.”
“I understand the frustration, I have offered to hop a plane and hand deliver punches.” This is a MIA spokesperson saying this!
If you want to save on air fare, I’d be willing to personally drive you to deliver those punches.” This is Miles Crowe, one of the SFA faction that apparently believes that violence solves many problems.
The entire thread can be seen here, until the SFA realizes we are linking to it and removes the thread to the “Dark Room”.
Be ready to stop the video when their notepad listing the results comes on, almost to the end. They don’t mention that the background radiation is higher than most of what they measure, and they apparently don’t realize that you can’t eliminate the background radiation from the measurements.
So nothing under 16 (their background or Alone as they call it) is at all radioactive, in fact, the items tha are lower must be blocking some of the radiation from the countertop under the striped towel covering the countertop.
Since this is from the MIA, I wonder what type of countertop is under that towel? Could it be ……..Granite? Isn’t that special…..
Another thing is very suspicious. This exact meter was shown in the Air Chek video on Radon and geiger counters. Most of the meters read about the same as our meter read that paticular slab of Niagara Gold (yes, that was one of our samples we sent in to show them there were hot slabs out there), 220 uR/hr or so. Yet our meter says our background is around 7 to 8 depending on when and where you measure, but the MIA video is 16 background. What is under that towel?
These kids most likely didn’t know any better, but I bet they were put up to this by a parent that is a MIA member. What a sad lesson to teach a kid, that it is okay to fake video evidence.
And, was there any child labor involved? The young lady was apparently quite hungry, was food withheld before the video? Were the children paid for there work? I do have too much fun with this at times.
This is from Dr. Rudi Nussbaum, one of the pioneers of radiation safety. Now retired, he helps us out on occasion with answers to our many questions on the risk/dose equations of low dose radiation.
In general, countertops in kitchens, in particular, that contain radioactive minerals definitely present a health risk since they are a continuous radiation source. Moreover, in addition to external exposure from penetrating radiation (gamma or high energy beta rays), released radioactive gas (radon) or radioactive minerals leaching from the stone due to spilled liquids like vinegar or other acids might enter your lungs or into food and thus produce internal exposure.
While the skin is thick enough to protect body tissue from damage by external alpha radiation, this is not true if alpha emitters get lodged in organs or the blood inside the body. Internal exposure represents a very much larger health risk compared to external exposures. However, it is extremely difficult to make any reliable statements about the magnitude of this risk compared to other environmental risks from chemicals in our food, water, air pollution, etc.
There are a few reliable studies of health risks from low level radiation for specific exposure situations: E.g. variations in terrestrial gamma background radiation across the British Isles is definitely correlated with variation in childhood cancer mortality. Or, low-dose exposures (most likely internal exposures) from radioactive fallout from nuclear weapons tests in the US or from the Chernobyl explosions in Europe have been found to be correlated with increases in neo-natal infant mortality.
The scarcity of research data is only in small part due to the limits of available scientific research tools. This kind of research requires levels of investment that only large research grants could provide. For over fifty years the political and military/industrial powers have deliberately manipulated the scientific establishment (by holding the research purse strings and carefully selecting scientist-members of official radiation protection bodies, including the UN World Health Organization) to proclaim in hundreds of official reports and mainstream journals and popular magazines that low level radiation is harmless (or may even be beneficial), thus protecting the interests of nuclear weapons and ammunition production, the industrial applications of radiation, but also the medical radiation establishment (radiology and nuclear medicine).
This is consistent with what you report about the granite industry.
There has always been a relatively small number of courageous whistle blowers who believe that they have a responsibility to search for the truth and resist corrupting pressures on their sense of scientific integrity. Any independent and critical scientist who challenges the accepted dogma with conflicting evidence (like the above examples about fallout) finds it very difficult to get his research reports published in the mainstream scientific/medical literature, and often has seen his career under assault and sometimes destroyed.
These are ugly facts of corruption and they result in workers’ and citizens’ lives being sacrificed, who remain unable to litigate for compensation because of the intentional absence of scientific evidence and the inherent impossibility to prove cause and effect for any individual victim of radiogenic disease. Open discussion of these matters in the general media would violate a strict taboo.
About the author:
Rudi H. Nussbaum, Ph.D.
Dr. Nussbaum is professor emeritus of physics and environmental sciences at Portland State University Physics and Environmental Sciences emeritus faculty, co-edited The Effects of Low-Dose Radiation Exposure: In Children, in Young Adults, in Medicine, the Environment and in the Workplace, which was from the proceedings of an international conference held March 19-21, 1998, in Muenster, Germany. The volume is published by the German Society for Radiation Protection, Berlin, 2001. Nussbaum also co-authored Epidemic Juvenile Hypothyroidism among a Population of Hanford ‘Downwinders’, which appears in the volume. Dr. Nussbaum received his B.S. in 1951, and Ph.D. in 1954 from the University of Amsterdam (The Netherlands)
This is a message on one of the radiation enthusiast forums from a gentleman that I had sent some low level granite samples. Nothing over 60 uR/hr measured with our PM 1703 meters. He used aluminum shielding, so this is all Gamma radiation. Each “count” is a Gamma ray hitting the meter. His testing method is far more accurate than out hand held meters, showing that our meters are indeed catching a small percentage.
On the Bordeaux, our meters registering 40 uR, his machine measured 8,492, 21.2 times more.
The Niagara Gold was at 50 uR/hr, Steve measured 19,604, or 39.2 times more radiation.
The Four Seasons was at 30 uR/hr, Steve found 6,466, or 21.5 times more radiation.
No doubt that as the stone gets past 40 uR/hr on our PM 1703 meters, the readings become way low. The meters are still useful since anthing over 40 should not be sold under any circumstances. Steve measured background at 4,000 cpm wich is about 66.6 times our background levels, of course he no doubt had a different radiation level in Pennsylvania.
These readings roughly support one of our scientists measurements that say our meters are catching only 5% of the radiation. That would be 20 times more on the lower level granites, close to what Steve found.
Al & others
My measurements so far on some of the offending granites:
(all gamma counts are 30 second averages w/ background subtracted,
measured with a 2″ dia x 2″ h NaI(Tl) crystal 1/2″ from the polished
surface, with 1/8″ aluminum shielding.)
Bordeaux G-3 4/8/08:
8,492 cpm gamma
Silver-gray opaque mineral noted – several 1-2 mm grains – this is
probably the radioactive species
Niagra Gold N6 4/8/08
19,604 cpm gamma
~1 cm silver-gray opaque grain exposed on one cut surface + some smaller
grains – again, this is probably the radioactive species (I cut off this
edge and it shows higher cpm gamma than pieces without visible opaque
4 Seasons P9 4/8/08
6,466 cpm gamma
Fracture surfaces show greenish/colorless secondary U mineral –
fluoresces bright green under UV light, is clearly visible in daylight
but not visible under incandescent. Possibly autunite? Primary U
mineral(s) are almost certainly present in this granite but I haven’t
found any yet.
This is one of the first stories we found on radiation levels in building materials, a story about floors being made with radioactive mine tailings.
The main point is that the EPA points out is that they would consider 10 to 14 uR/hr to be an acceptable level for cleaning up a high level radition area. In this case, the floor was around 800 to 1,000 uR/hr, about the same level of the Four Seasons granite slab we found and cut into samples for the scientists. We understand that Linda Kincade, a Certified Industrial Hygenist has also found a granite sample at 700 uR/hr, and of course the Tacoma slab that measured 1,030 uR/hr.
So it would seem that 10 to 14 uR/hr would also be the prefered level of a building material as well. There are some granite colors this low, but not a lot.
This is interesting. This writer of this article interviewed me a few weeks back, about the time of the New York Times story. Dr. Chiodo as usual, told it like it is. The only opposing reasonable voice was a lawyer that specialized in defending toxic cases. He bases his doubts on the levels of radiation from granite, without knowing exactly what that those levels are. This is a re occuring theme with the “experts” when they respond in the media.
Of course the MIA was interviewed and made these claims.
“The highest recorded emission rates were hundreds to thousands of times lower than EPA safety guidelines.”
Of course the MIA did not mention that the study they paid Dr. Chyi to produce showed Crema Bordeaux emitting .27 pCi/L, which is about one fourteenth the EPA action level. So much for their claim of hundreds or thousands of times the action levels.
The MIA also had this to say.
“To meet the EPA guidelines for action, 4 picocuries per liter, emissions from a typical granite countertop would have to be approximately 2,600 becquerels, a figure that equals 2,000 times the highest emission rates reported in scientific journals. ”
To put that figure into perspective, let’s look at a Chinese study that also measured the radiation in Becquerels.
In this study, they found Radium levels (Radium is the parent element of Radon, all this Radium eventually becomes Radon, so the two elements will be in equilibrium) from 16 to 204 Bq per kilo gram. Now, the average granite countertop weighs 1,000 pounds (55 square feet), so there are 454 kilograms per countertop. That gives between 7,272 and 92,616 Bq (Becquerels) present per counter top! From 2.7 to 35.62 times what the MIA says is too much!
Another thing stands out, the MIA claim the 2,600 Bq was 2,000 times the highest emission rates reported in scientific journals. That would calculate out to 1.3 Bq per Kilo gram. Since the Chinese study found from 16 to 204 Bq per kilo gram, one wonders why the MIA would claim that granite had so little Radon present?
The MIA’s estimate of 1.3 Bq per Kilo gram matches what the EPA once thought the average granite contained. Being the supposed experts on granite, this seems troubling. Surely granite being found near Uranium quarries would have been tested, indeed there are those who say the MIA knew long ago that there was an issue.
We did get a mention at the bottom of the article, and a quote.
This article covers why the latency period is so unpredictable from radiation induced cancers. Some what technical, but readable.
This link is an interview with John William Gofman, who was
” a professor emeritus of Medical Physics at UC Berkeley, and lecturer for the Department of Medicine, UCSF. While getting As PhD in physics at Berkeley in the 1940s, Gofman proved the slow and fast neutron fissionability of uranium-233. At the request of J. Robert Oppenheimer, Gofman helped produce plutonium (not even a quarter-milligram existed at the time) for the Manhattan Project. He got his MD from UCSF in 1946 (winning the Gold-Headed Cane Award, presented to the senior who most fully personifies a “true physician”) and began his research on coronary heart disease. In 1963 the Atomic Energy Commission asked him to establish a Biomedical Research Division at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to evaluate the health effects of all types of nuclear radiation. By 1969, however, the AEC and the “radiation community” were downplaying his warnings about the risks of radiation . Gofman returned to full-time teaching at Berkeley, switching to emeritus status in 1973.”
Goffman explains why a single track of ionizing radiation through a cell can lead to cancer. He also postulates that X ray radiation (no different than Gamma from a granite countertop) is more harmful that the atomic bomb radiation. It seems that the X ray radiation is traveling slower, leaves more energy deposited in a cell than a faster moving atomic bomb Gamma or Nuetron ray.
One of his most troubling messages was this:
“Women irradiated 15, 20 years ago got horrendous doses from mammography compared to now. And therefore, some of the present increase in breast cancer has to be from the radiation they got.”
Apparently they have learned to use lower doses and a few are concerned that they did a lot of harm in the past.
And this was a troubling quote:
“If I were a member of the public, knowing what I know: if the establishment told me that something had a certain risk, I’d assume that the true risk was at least 10 times worse.”
This interview is an easy read, not at all technical. It makes you think about what made this esteemed expert unacceptable to the government. Might be a case of shooting the messanger.
For some time now, there has been a debate on the “bystander effect”, in which a radiation damaged cell signaled nearby cells in some manner, causing up to 50 more cells to become damaged as well. Many studies pointed to the possiblity, but this new study is the first to actually find proof of the injured, unradiated cells.
The researchers too mice, used a lead shield to protect the head from Radiation, then zapped them with radiation. Brain tumors were found in higher levels than the control mice, until a chemical that prevents cells from communicating was injected in one of the batches of mice. Those mice did not have a higher level of brain tumors.
The importance of this study is that it will lead other researchers to duplicate the results, and if that happens, the dose/risk rates of radiation will tumble to new lows. What we think as safe will become known as not safe, leading to a lower acceptable radiation exposure level. Of course exposure levels have been dropping every few years since they were establised in the forties. No surprise that it should happen again.