Announcing the New Solid Surface Alliance Forum

For more info, to ask questions, or to find a tester, go to

We finially have the Forum up for the Solid Surface Alliance. Unregistered guests can browse all but one of the catagories, but if you want to ask a question or comment, you need to register. Registeration is easy, fill out the usual form, the system will email you with a link to activate your account, then just log in as usual.

The forum is brand new, so there won’t be much content until the membership grows, so add a question or comment if you visit to help get the conversations going. New forums are tough to start, people look around, see little going on, and leave. But, with the volumne of questions we get from the public, this forum will save lots of time and make the answers available for all interested internet viewers to find.

There is one section off limits to all but invited members, that is the Scientific Section which is dedicated for those who are working on the issues. There they can spreak freely, bounce ideas off each other, and not worry about info getting picked up and repeated elsewhere before the proper time.

Please contact us if you have any problems signing up or logging on. Remember you MUST click on the link in the email that is sent to you to activate your account. You might have to scroll down one page when you open the email to find the activation link.

For more info, to ask questions, or to find a tester, go to

Italian Study on Thoron and Radon From Natural Stone Products

Posted in Granite and Radon, Uncategorized by Administrator on the September 7th, 2008

For more info, to ask questions, or to find a tester, go to

This Italian study lays out the issues of Radon and Thoron based radiation issues clearly. They lay out the strict correlation between Radon/Thoron and health risks while admiting that sometimes building material based Radon or Thoron are the most likely cause of high levels in a home.

Their materials in the study come from the Lazio region of Italy. Mostly igneous rocks, lava based, although they include some travertines. They point out that as much as 30% loss of result from leakage and back diffusion of the Radon. Back diffusion is where the Radon returns to the material instead of accumulating where it can be measured.

Another point is that moisture content actually raises the Radon release, the water inside the pores stops the Radon atom from recoiling into another crystal matrix inside the stone, stopping the Radon inside the pores and crevices where it can find its way out of the stone. Looking at Table 2, you can see the huge diference in Radon versus Thoron emitted in some stones, yet many of the Radon tests specifically omit any Thoron results as irrelevant. As much as 750 times more Thoron as Radon emitted.

The study has five conclusions, that building materials need to be classified by their Radon/Thoron exhalation rates, that leakage and back diffusion must be accounted for since it can reduce the measured levels by up to 30%, that the exhalation rates are dependent on grain size, humidity and temprature, that Thoron gas is a serious health concern and should not be dismissed, and that there should be catalogs of materials with Radon and Thoron exhalation rates so that builders could choose low level materials.

Bystander Effect Hints at Dangers of Low-Dose Radiation

Posted in Uncategorized by Administrator on the August 21st, 2008

For more info, to ask questions, or to find a tester, go to

Bystander Effect Hints at Dangers of Low-Dose Radiation

By Jocelyn Kaiser
According to ScienceNOW Daily News writer Jocelyn Kaiser, the lead apron you wear during a dental x-ray is supposed to protect the rest of you from radiation. But it may not work very well, according to a new study. When cancer-prone mice were placed in lead containers and irradiated on just the lower half of their bodies, they developed brain tumors. The results suggest that radiation could be riskier than scientists thought.

The study builds on a surprising effect, first observed 16 years ago. When cells in culture are exposed to ionizing radiation, even those not directly hit sustain damage to Chromosomes. Apparently, the irradiated cells pass on a distress signal or emit some chemical that breaks the DNA of neighboring cells.

Although this “bystander effect” has been observed in tissue culture and recently in
living animals, no experiments have yet linked it to the main reason for concern: Bystander effects might trigger cancer. Some scientists even suspect the opposite–that the bystander responses could protect against the disease by killing damaged cells.
Now it seems that the cancer risk is real. Radiation oncologist Anna Saran at the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and the Environment in Rome and colleagues studied mice with a mutation in a gene called Patched that makes them susceptible to brain tumors early in life. They placed newborn mice in lead shields that protected their
heads and upper bodies, then zapped them with high-dose x-rays, or about 12,000 times the dose of a dental or chest x-ray. The scientists found that the cerebellums of these animals had higher than normal amounts of DNA damage and apoptosis, or programmed cell death. By 40 weeks of age, 39% of the shielded mice had developed brain tumors. That’s a lot considering that the rate was 62% in Patched mice that were irradiated all over, including their heads. Patched mice that weren’t irradiated did not develop brain cancer.

When the team injected the shielded mice with a chemical that blocks cell-to-cell communication before irradiating them, they detected no DNA breaks and the amount of apoptosis decreased more than threefold. Even though the irradiated tissues are far away from the brain, they are connected by neurons that could be passing on bystander signals, Saran says. The results appear online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“This is a milestone paper,” says Columbia University radiation physicist David Brenner. He suggests that current estimates of cancer risk from low doses of radiation–say, from naturally occurring radon and diagnostic tests–may underestimate the danger by failing to take into account bystander effects. To learn more, however, the mouse work should be
repeated with lower doses of radiation, Saran says.

Bystander Effect” Hints at Dangers of Low-Dose Radiation

Video Shows Four Seasons Slab Cut Into Samples and Ready to Ship

Posted in Uncategorized by Administrator on the August 7th, 2008

This video shows the Four Seasons granite slab cut into samples and the crates of granite samples ready to ship to the scientists and Radon labs. Also, a video of the small 2″ diameter core samples before they were shipped to Dr. Llope at Rice University. 300 to 400 uR/hr from a little chunk of granite. Hot stuff!

We Need Our Granite Countertops Tested, Who Can Do This?

Posted in Help For Home Owners, Uncategorized by Administrator on the August 5th, 2008

For more info, to ask questions, or to find a tester, go to

Several ways to get your countertops checked for radiation.

Radon companies some times have Geiger Counters or Scintillators.

Some times the State or local college will send someone out with a meter. We tend to discourage this, prefering to use them to document a previously documented hot top.

Some Enviromental companies will do this for a fee, usually a large fee.

Or you can look on our list of people that have the proper equipment and experience to do an informal test. Some of these people are retired experts, graduate students, experienced radiation enthusiasts, or moonlighting professionals. The equipment will vary from basic to quite elaborate. The point is to find out if you have a high enough level of radiation for concern, not provide a extremely accurate reading, something that is difficult with hand held meters.

New people sign up every day, so ask if you don’t see someone near your city and we will ask around in the radiation forums.

Here is the areas covered so far. Replace the “at” with @ (keeps the spam bots away)


Phoneix, Steve Jones, LENi Omega, steve “at”

Pleasanton, 40 miles North of San Jose, Craig , zplash “at”
Bakersfield, John, CDV 700 basic Geiger Counter, no Alpha, jbls “at”
San Jose, Linda Kincaid, Certified Industrial Hygienist, nanosafety “at”


Denver area, Front Range area, Richard Westfall, spaceguy2008 ” at”

Stuart, Associated Radon Services, a professional lab, web site at

Chicago (Vernon Hills in the north) Doug Troglodite ” at”
Chicago Radon Ron, professional Radon/radiation testers radonron “at”
Chicago, Nancy Baker, njbakerco “at”


Nancy Baker, njbakerco “at”

Saginaw, Tracy Albert, thealbert “at”
Nancy Baker, njbakerco “at”

St Louis area, Jim Hickinbotham, rabid “at”
Ron, Ludlum Model #3, jean-claude “at”

Missoula, Eberline RM-14 with a HP 260 pancake probe, Ken Cook, wellsia “at”

Las Vegas, Dudley Emer, extensive list of equipment available, dfemer “at”

State College, Steve Poterala, scintillator and Geiger counter sfp908 “at”

Erie, Jim, lots of equipment keylimepie2″at”

Philadelphia, Aaron, Eberline ESP-1 scintillor and a LENi pancake, aaron”at”

Oklahoma City area, Al Gerhart, LENi Geiger counter, PM 1703,
al “at”

Yukon area, Chris Cavanaugh, extensive equipment PM 1703, cav427 “at”

Nashville, Robert Drueker, LENi Geiger Counter, robertdruecker “at”

Houston, Mike Loughlin & son, CDV 700 with Data log, loughlin3 “at”

South Carolina
Greenville, Steve Poterala’s dad, scintillator, sfp908 “at”
Snohomish, PM 1703 and a Ludlum, Ed Garrett, garrett_ew “at”

Alamogordo, New Mexico, Danny, dahur1″at”

If you need testing, just add a comment, be sure to do the “at” thing so spam bots don’t pick up your email address.

Crisis Management for Shops Caught Flat Footed by These Issues

Posted in Help for Shop owners, Uncategorized by Administrator on the August 3rd, 2008

Something that few countertop shops think about is who to call when something like this happens. After all, we are good at fabricating tops, but usually no expert at seeing chinks in our armour or responding well to a problem involving bad press such as this granite/radiation issue.

Here is a firm that is exert in these matters. Located in Southern California, Bernstein Crisis Management serves clients all over the US, and some internationally. The Internet makes it very easy to service most client needs and keeps costs affordable.

They provide 24/7 access to its president, Jonathan Bernstein, and a network of carefully screened and highly experienced crisis management experts who are on call nationwide and in many markets overseas. Bernstein Crisis Management engages in the full spectrum of crisis management services: crisis prevention, response, planning, training and simulations. Created in January 1994, they promise their clients direct assistance from senior-level crisis management professionals.

Simply put, Jonathan Bernstein or — if he’s already 100% engaged, one of his skilled alternates — is directly available to the CEO or the designated client contact, to help the organization survive any breaking crisis and/or to plan for avoiding future crises.

Bernstein Inc serves clients that may suffer or are suffering threats to people or property, reputation damage, business interruption and/or loss of share value. Their services are also in high demand to help clients avoid and/or minimize the impact of future crises. They also focus on making clients not merely prepared, but actually resistant to the prospect and effect of crises.

Are Ethics Important in a Debate? Some Think not…

Posted in Uncategorized by Administrator on the July 27th, 2008

I frequent another site,, keeping tabs on the latest in the stone world, rarely posting except to defend another poster being blamed falsely. Maybe four or five posts a year. I have also stepped in on occasion to provide a homeowner reassurance that her granite is not a known dangerous one, advising not to freak out, just get it checked.

So it was a surprise to find a stone fabricator posting a quote that had been edited by someone with either access to my posts via editing or access to passwords. Fortunetly, I am more than aware of what type of people I am dealing with and usually save copies of web page postings just in case.

Here is what was quoted by a Miles Crowe, owner of Crowes Custom Countertops out of Acworth, GA. His website is at Miles claimed that I wrote the quote below.

“”Mr. Distelhorst,

I make plastic countertops for a living AND am slowly going broke as Natural Stone has killed the plastic countertop industry. I hate granite guys….just thought you might like to know that. ”

Here is what I actually wrote in response to Mr. Distilhorse:

“Mr. Distelhorst,

It is over and we both know it. If you have any doubt, get on a plane and come down to see me and I’ll show you plenty of hot granite.

If you would treat this issue as you did your customer care and cleaning page on your website, none of this would have happened.

It is time to set things straight. Build Clean will help, and I will help you identify the hot granites. Clean up your website, fess up, and let’s clean this mess up.

I actually admire the gumption of the MIA, but it is ill spent beating a dead horse. Get this cleaned up, then take over Issfa. I’d join if you got rid of a few of the wussies over there.”


No doubt I have strong opinions of the ISSFA organization, the older solid surface trade association.

Who Else will Try to Bury the Truth About Low Level Radiation?

Posted in Uncategorized by Administrator on the July 24th, 2008

Reading the history of radiation will answer the question of why so many in the radiation industry is adamantly against any discussion of low level radiation risks.

This is linked off Associated Radon Services, William Levy’s excellent site.

Part one:

Part two:

Part three:

Bill Levy’s site is a treasure trove of information on Radon and low level radiation risk. Spend some time there if you truly want to understand these issues.

Controversy over Radiation Fetal Dose Limits

Posted in Uncategorized by Administrator on the July 20th, 2008

One of the problems with knowing who to trust is that everyone has a dog in the fight that is publishing information on the issue. For instance, the medical field has a reason to want to minimize the risk of radiation, they sell a product, CT scans, X rays and other radiological procedures and they also want to manage their risk of being sued by performing tests. So they profit in two ways.

Here is a link on the risks of radiation to fetuses.

In the first paragraph, they outline the risks quite well, but then the rest ofthe article says not to worry. The most troubling portion was this:

“At the level of most diagnostic procedures ( fetal dose < 10 rem), little data in humans is available. However, some qualitative observations regarding fetal risk can be made.”

Were it my wife and baby, I would care little about “some qualitative observations”, I want to know in plain language if they really know if there is a risk or not. No disclaimer, straight up yes or no, is there a risk or not?

First Trimester of pregnancy

“The incidence of fetal wastage consequential to radiation exposure at this stage of gestation is not known, since (a) many women were never aware they were pregnant at the time of the exposure or miscarriage, and (b) the “background” rate of miscarriage is believed to be high (25 – 50 percent of conceptions). ”

Okay, fine, you don’t know…. and if there were a study of this, the results would be hidden in the normal rate of miscarriage.

“It is believed that radiation injury during early gestation is an “all-or-nothing” effect. ”

It would seem, taken in context, that they are saying that a significant radiation exposure will simply kill the fetus in the very beginning, or cause the womans body to miscarry. Reason enough for our warning to never, never, allow a pregnant woman around a granite countertop unless it has been tested and found to be safe.

Second Trimester of pregnancy

” During this period, the overall growth rate of the fetus has slowed. However, the major organ systems are beginning to differentiate. From a standpoint of future development, the fetus is in its most sensitive stage. The incidence of gross congenital malformations and mental retardation are dose-related and appear to have thresholds; i.e. doses below which the incidence above “background” is not elevated.”

The opperative word is “appear”. Again, I don’t want to know that it may “appear” or is “most likely” to have a threshold, I want to know that there is a threshold and exactly what that threshold is. And I see that “gross” problems are covered, but how about smaller defects? Is the baby safe from radiation or not? What levels are unsafe? Are the “background” levels of miscarraige also hiding any surprises?

Third Trimester

” Irradiation during this period may deplete cell populations at very high doses (over 50 rem), but will not result in gross organ malformations.”

Okay, 50 rem won’t be encountered in a medical procedure or a granite countertop, so why is it mentioned. Wouldn’t it be best to use medium dose or low dose data? And again, how about minor damage or malformations? Will you tell me straight up, is there any risk from low level radiation in the third trimester or not?

“For some prenatal irradiation effects, there is epidemiological basis for the existence of threshold doses. For others, such as childhood cancer induction, the existence of a threshold is not clear-cut. Despite these uncertainties in the dose-effect relationship, some broad generalizations based on fetal dose ranges may be made.”

Great, there is some data on some prenatal effects but childhood cancer induction is unknown. Since there is uncertainties, tell me why one woud make a broad generalization on this issue?

“Fetal Dose Less Than 1,000 millirem — There is no evidence supporting the increased incidence of any deleterious developmental effects on the fetus at diagnostic doses within this range.”

Okay, but have there been studies on this? If so, come out and make a definitive statement on the risk.

“Fetal Dose between 1,000 millirem and 10,000 millirem — The additional risk of gross congenital malformations, mental retardation, intrauterine growth retardation and childhood cancer is believed to be low compared to to the baseline risk. However, the lower limits (in terms of statistical confidence intervals around the mean) for threshold doses for some studies, especially those related to cancer induction, fall within this range.”

1,000 millirem (1,000 mR or 1 Rem) can be obtained from a granite countertop hot spot. Take our example of the Four Seasons slab, 3.2 mR per hour exposure. That is 312 hours of use of that granite countertop, 156 days at 2 hours per day. Less than the 270 day pregnacny period. Keeping in mind that some experts are predicting that our meters are from 2 to 6 times low, the 1 Rem level could be easily reached. And I could care less that it is low compared to the baseline risk, if we are the couple that gets the 1 out of 100 problem, it is a huge risk to us.

“Fetal Dose Exceeding Than 10,000 millirem — The lower limits (in terms of statistical confidence intervals) for threshold doses for effects such as mental retardation and diminished IQ and school performance fall within this range. Overall, exposure at levels exceeding 10 rem could be expected to result in a dose-related increased risk for deleterious effects. For example, the lower limit (95% confidence interval) for the threshold for mental retardation is about 15 rem, which an expectation value of about 30 rem.”

Okay, even I would admit that a 10 Rem dose would be difficult to obtain from a granite countertop in a home.. On the other hand, would a pregnant woman working in a granite showroom be likely to reach that exposure? Many granite showrooms use granite for desks, were a hot spot such as the Four Seasons slab to be in a work desk, 270 days (nine months) exposure would be 4.6 Rem for the desk alone. No doubt the lady would not spend a full 40 hours at that desk, but there will be plenty of other granite radiation sources nearby, all adding to the exposure. Let’s hope she doesn’t have a granite top at home with a hot spot.

4.6 rem is too close to 10 rem for comfort. Most safety rules have rigourous amounts of excess built in. Take as an example the strength of a rope or chain used for lifting, factors of ten are common, or ten times less than the chain will usually hold. Only prudent to have safety factors.

The same should be done with radiation risks for non essential uses of radioactive products like granite. Especially since low level granite can be found with a little care and trouble.