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Politics and agenda, be it the office, the town hall, or the hallways of an university, they are always present. The solid surface industry is no different, and in the granite testing controversy many of the former champions of the solid surface industry are turning into opponents of testing granite.
I call granite the crack cocaine of the countertop industry. Cheap material, high selling cost, thus huge markups, no warranty, no training neccasary, no one keeping track of unhappy customers. Like a drug, granite can debase those who touch it if they aren’t careful. From working with materials that have long warranites and strict standards, they learn that with granite anything goes cause there is no one to say otherwise. Like a drug, it can trash a shop’s reputation for quality work, and lead to a lot of unhappy customer.
But, it pays boat loads of money for as long as it lasts.
I posted this message on an industry forum called Fabnet in response to an email I recieved. Russ Lee, a long time Issfa member is currently attempting to convince Issfa (International Solid Surface Fabricators Association) members to drop the pretense that Issfa is representing the solid surface industry’s interests. He is to lead a change in the organization that will include all countertop materials. This is like the Beef Council deciding to represent pork producers, “It’s whats for dinner” ? Which one?
I have been asked many times why the solid surface industry doesn’t support the granite testing effort. To start with, there are only two members of their Board of Directors that are solid surface only shops, the rest, six or more, are all granite shops some of which don’t even feature solid surface on their websites.
So it is the Beef Council being run by a bunch of chicken farmers.
Now, the post was copied and pasted below.
Many fabnetters have confided in me over the few years I have been here, and I am sure I have with those folks a reputation for keeping confidences where it it warranted.
However, on occasion, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one. This is such an occasion.
Russ Lee is said to be a level headed person, unflappable was one description recently given. I understand that many respect his judgement on things related to the solid surface industry. Others will wonder why I revealed such a horrible personal attack against me, knowing that the stoners will post it out of context and without the following rebuttal. Easy answer, I don’t doubt that I am right and don’t really care if stupid people show their a**.
There is another Russ Lee that was revealed in this email sent to me tonight. If anyone credible doubts this email, I will forward it to you.
I hope you will take this in the spirit in which it is intended. Even though I don’t know you well personally I would like to share some experiences I have had in my own life. My wife of 31 years suffers from bi-polar disease. My son-in-law’s father also suffers from bi-polar disease and I have had personal interactions with a few other people over the years who also suffer from the same ailment. As such, I have had occasion to observe the classic symptoms which, I can honestly say, almost always follow a very similar pattern. The nature of your posts lately make me wonder if you might have a touch of the disease yourself.
A characteristic of bi-polar disease is the manic stage in which, as my son-in-law puts it, you become 20 feet tall and bullet proof. That’s kind of a flippant way to describe it, but it is characterized by huge energy bursts, trouble sleeping, a feeling that the person knows more about a given topic than anyone else, that they are often “called” to change the world, and usually experience a feeling of extraordinary well being. Also part of the disease for many people is some paranoia.
Most people with the disease are adamant that nothing is wrong and will vehemently oppose any efforts by family members to get help. Sometimes they become violent.
Now, I may be completely wrong in my suspicions, but a lot of what I see on the FabNet seems to fit the pattern. Your recent statements about death threats (especially after reading the posts that make you say that) kind of set off the warning bell. I know it is presumptuous of me to even say this to you, and I hope you take in the spirit of someone who has lived with the disease most of his adult life. Please think about it, and if you think it may be appropriate, consult a doctor. Bi-polar disease is a chemical imbalance in the brain. It is easily treated, although the sufferer will have to eventually give up the manic phases (the extraordinary feeling of energy and well-being) to find a balance.
Now, Russ has had little contact with me over the years, mainly an email exchange allowing the use of his Wikipedia post on solid surface, then later asking to remove the Wiki post so as not be known as supporting solid surface on the SSA site. Not a problem, I took his work down immediately after he requested it. But except for butting heads on Fabnet on occasion, that is the extent of our relationship. One can understand that a letter such as his is not sent as a “friend”, but as a passive/aggressive attack.
Let’s face it, Russ came here with an agenda, which of itself is not a problem, but he also wants to spread his information without being questioned as to it’s validity or purpose. Russ is not at all happy that he has to defend his statements, nor does he want me asking the tough questions despite the fact that were they actually answered, it might push his project forward. So Russ decides to up the ante with a personal attack in the guise of concern.
Russ, let’s look at what you wrote and address it point by point.
First off, my condolences with your family troubles, I understand you have dealt with far more than this. However, it seems this issue runs rampant in your family, not mine, and perhaps you are overly sensitive to the matter, either that or “you might have a touch of the disease yourself”.
Russ, I have never described myself as “20 foot tall and bullet proof”. Dealing with the multitude of ignorant opponents I have been blessed with certainly could lead down that road, but I have dealt with life enough to understand the danger of becoming over confident. Those on Fabnet whose opinions I respect, I consider their advice very seriously. Ask Tom. Others might mean well, but speak from ignorance of the subject, so I explain why I don’t follow their advice and do as I think best. My spending several years educating myself on the subject matter, and the advice of many experts in the fields of interest may preclude indulging well meaning individuals.
Huge energy boosts….well, it has been a little over two years. How long do these “bursts” last? I sleep like a baby Russ, comes from doing what is right. Try that sometimes. As to knowing more about a given topic, well, in the Radon/radiation/granite issues, I do know more than anyone in the countertop industry. Were you trustworthy, I would send you hundreds and hundreds of email exchanges I have had with the country’s leading experts on Radon and radiation, where you could see my manner with those who have far more knowledge than I on these matters.
Russ, many of leaders of the effort to set standards and protocols are in my email group that I run on the granite issues. They value me for several reasons, I provided the hottest samples they have ever seen (understand that they were given low samples for their studies, my samples kept them from publishing an incomplete study), I know enough about their world that I can offer a lay mans opinion on how their work will be taken, I know enough about the granite business that I can answer questions about the trade practices (or I have the contacts within the industry that I can get the answers), and most importantly, I am stubborn enough to dig to the bottom of the pile sifting for clues that make their work easier and better.
I also spend lots of money procuring and shipping samples to them. They know that what ever they need, I will bust my tail finding it for them. In short, Russ, we have the same goal, finding the truth of the matter. Basically, where a man puts his treasure, there also lies his heart. Russ, they trust me cause they understand me.
Now, I see you are also trying to “change the world” with regard to Issfa. Perhaps you should look at your own emotional health to seek out any hints of abnormal behavior?
Now, my family, especially my lovely wife, are very supportive of what I do, nor would you have any proof that anyone wants me to “get help”. The only ones that have threatened violence have been the stone industry members. Allowing of course, that your letter itself is not passive/aggressive violence in itself.
And the statements about the death threats. Russ, Russ, Russ….. you are so inadequate to this task. Consider that many fabnetters also keep up with the stoneadvice site for several years. Many have seen the posts about me on the SFA site, mentioning physical violence, driving down to OKC to take care of me, one mentioned that Kansas still used “hanging” and that maybe Oklahoma did as well. Plenty of little snips about meeting me at a stone show and “educating me”, or settling this in “the octagon”. Then there is the “Dark Room”, well let’s just say there was enough posted there to have a lot of fun with the SFA should they push the issue.
And Russ, you wouldn’t believe some of the emails we have gotten. The most disturbing one threatened to “rape” all the females in my family. Do this, call Joanna Duggan and chat with her about this issue. She and Mike faced the same thing several times.
Do these threats give me pause? Sure, and we have taken the appropriate precautions. We like guns here in OKC, Russ. Us country boys can take care of our own. But I don’t lose a minute of sleep nor do I consider stopping this effort to bring the issues to light.
And finally Russ, you wrote:
“….I hope you take in the spirit of someone who has lived with the disease most of his adult life. ”
Bingo….. Russ, there is a process called projection. A disturbed person takes his problems and “projects” them on to their imagined enemy or opponent. However, always, always, these poor souls will reveal themselves with mannerisms or simply tell you what you need to know if you listen patiently. Some call it a Freudian slip, but I believe it is simply that most human beings are adverse to lie completely, they just have to leave a clue as a warning. I hope you take this in the spirit it is intended, but perhaps you yourself could benefit from consulting a doctor.
And yes, it is very presumptuous for you to offer your opinions and I have never been your friend, nor would I want to be friends with someone that has such a lack of integrity such as you have shown with this email.
Russ, my core belief is one best desribed by the Chinese as “Taoism”, a belief that things happen for a reason, that one must go with the flow of events. To do so invites incredible events to take place, as one is simply doing what fate intends.
I see life as proof that someone or something is in charge. Call it God, Fate, destiny, Karma, any number of names that we poor humans have created to fill the void, but it is there. Any sucesses I have a part in are not my sucesses, I am like a tool laying in a tool box. A hand reaches in needing a tool for a task and I cooperate. Other tools feel the “hand” upon them, and violenty evade, which is where the majority of human suffering has it’s start.
So Russ, it ought to be very clear to most readers where things lay in this thread. You desparately want to help turn Issfa away from even the apperances of doing what many, many members paid their dues to do, support the solid surface industry. You seem to idolize Oxley, despite his shortcomings and lack of professionalism, perhaps from too long waiting in his shadow.
Now is your chance to shine, but there is that damned Al asking awkward questions.
Just answer the questions, Russ. Doing a personal attack just shows that you can’t answer the charges without damaging your agenda.
A few hours later, the moderator pulled the entire thread for “administrative review”, then deleted a offensive post from a stoner, then returned the thread to the Member Section for all to see. The next day, another former supporter of the testing effort, Lenny Elbon, posted actual physical threats along with vauge claims that I had posted misleading information.
A few hours later, Andy Graves, thefabricatornetwork.com site owner, banned me from the site for thirty days, for “continued disrespectful posts”. One must assume that to respond to another’s disrespect is itself disrespectful in Andy’s world.
The truth of the matter is much more simple. I had been getting warnings that Andy was searching for an excuse, that I was bad for the advertising revenue on his site. Back in June, right after the first TV story on the Houston granite, Andy posted some misleading info on his site, claiming he tested 2,000 slabs of granite and found no slabs of concern. Now, a few weeks before, he did post some 60 and 80 uR/hr slabs, which would give you 117 mR per year with four hours a day use of the countertop. Next, he declared Build Clean to be a fraud, and said he was contacting his friends at the MIA.
After the New York Times story came out, all of a sudden Andy posts pictures showing 150 uR/hr granite, using the same meter he had used when he claimed he couldn’t find any hot granites. The problem was that by then he had already shipped my meter back to me, proving that he had already found the hot slab, but witheld the fact for what ever reason.
So now we know why Issfa didn’t support the testing effort, and now other long time solid surface industry members are pushing Issfa to drop it’s representation of solid surface and quartz, then become an organization that sells training to fabricators. The problem is the guys that spent years and thousands of dollars helping build Issfa into something. Another issue is that these days, no one can sell information, too much available for free on the internet. The manufacturers will train you for solid suface fabrication, and there is no formal training required for stone or quatrz.
In the end, the solid surface community will get what it deserves. The Issfa vote was around 80 to 30 to drop the exclusive representation of solid surface and quartz, showing a split as well as absmally low numbers that even cared.
What a way to run an industry.
The MIA is producing many brochures and website pages on the granite countertop and Radon/Radiation, few of which are entirely truthful.
Here are exerts from one, along with my comments in bold.
ANSWERS TO CUSTOMERS’ QUESTIONS ABOUT GRANITE COUNTERTOPS
Q: I was thinking about installing granite countertops in my home, but after reports I’ve seen (and/or read) recently, I’m having second thoughts. Are granite countertops safe?
A: Yes. Many of the reports are based on questionable science and provide misleading information which is taken out of context. Note the lack of supporting info, name one instance please.
If you want to know the real truth about granite, check studies that have been conducted over the years by well-respected scientists and independent research organizations. I guess if you consider being paid by the MIA to do the work independent
Study findings have been consistent: radon emissions from granite countertops aren’t even close to posing a health risk. But were the few samples picked for being low level? It’s true that samples can vary and some samples can be more of a source of radiation than others – but the highest emission rates ever reported in scientific literature result in concentrations that are hundreds of even thousands of times lower than the EPA’s guidelines. Hardly, we have been over this lie many times, Dr. Chyi’s finding of Crema Bordeaux was only 14 times lower than the EPA action level, and that study was hardly objective.
Q: I’m nervous about my granite countertops. I want you to rip them out of my kitchen right now
A: Be reassured that your granite countertops are every bit as safe as they are beautiful, practical and durable. They show someone waiving a Geiger counter over a granite countertop and it starts clicking. It’s definitely sensational – but totally meaningless. No, the presence of radiation shows the need to do further Radon testing. The Geiger counters and scintillators detect the daughter products of the Radon. Compared to the radiation levels of everyday things in our homes and neighborhoods, the radiation levels produced by granite countertops are minuscule. That is a bald faced lie. You may not realize that a Geiger counter will also click if you waive it over a smoke detector, many wristwatches, your television, your computer, a bowl of Brazil nuts or potatoes on your kitchen table, cinder block walls in your garage, or even many kinds of glazed pottery in your living room. Actually not many Radium watches are still ticking, few people spend much time around a smoke detector nor is the mass as large as a granite countertop, the TV and Computer put off electromagnetic radiation not ionizing radiation, Cinder blocks can be about the same radiation levels as low level granite countertops, and while I have yet to find any Brazil nuts to test, we have done testing on potatoes and can tell you that the MIA is lying through their teeth when they compare the unreadable radiation levels in potatoes to a granite countertop that is easily measured. There may be an odd plate or vase with radiation, yet no where near the mass of a granite countertop. An interesting point, the pottery industry will warn you about the issues, and tell you not to eat or drink off these items to prevent ingestion of uranium leached out of the glaze.
Q: So, you deny that granite countertops can cause radiation and give me and my family cancer?
A: The amount of radiation produced by the typical granite countertop is minuscule compared to things we have around our homes. Read above, an outright lie. None of the research studies of granite countertops has ever identified a single stone that poses any significant health threat. False, the MIA is aware of the work being done by Kitto, Steck, and Llope. They also know that the EPA has warned that some granite countertop materials have very high levels of uranium. While it’s true that samples can vary and some samples can be more of a source of radiation than others – the highest emission rates ever reported in respected scientific literature result in concentrations that are hundreds of even thousands of times lower than the EPA’s guidelines. Absolutely false, even the study the MIA paid for refutes their statement!
Q: Why would the media say that granite countertops are not safe if it isn’t true?
A: The sad truth is that consumer fears benefit companies that manufacture synthetic countertops, two of which are funding some of the fear-mongering efforts, and by radon detection consultants, who will benefit through the sale of their services. Actually, the Radon industry in general provided zero support till the last few weeks, even now there are a few remaining skeptics. One of the sponsors of Build Clean even quit the testing effort after attempting to hold back the testing effort. Build Clean is completely independent.Q: Why should I believe a word you say? You want to sell me a granite countertop!
A: I won’t deny that I’d love to sell you a granite countertop, but I would not sell you anything unless I was sure that you know that granite countertops are safe for you and your family. Note that they didn’t say that they were sure, they said “you know”. I have a home. I have a (wife/husband). And I have (# of children). Obvious this is a fill in the blank form letter or talking points that the MIA members are supposed to use to convince people to lay their hard earned money down.
They go on by trying to say every countertop emits some poisonous substance in varying amounts. Nice try….Here is the MIA web page where they say all this and more.
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”.
Last week, the Health Physicists Society came out with a statement that leaned way over toward the MIA’s claims that all granites were safe. Several problems with their statement and calculations, and we had extensive contact with them over the issue, as did Dr. Llope. While backing off their claims in private, the public statement remains dismisive of any risk from granite countertop materials. Once people know more about the Health Physicists Society’s reputation, the more the HPS statement itself can be dismissed.
Cohn & Wolfe turned up last week as the Marble Institutes new Public Relations firm. Didn’t give it much thought till Christina did some digging around.
Cohn & Wolfe are a crisis management firm, who you call when not only the house is on fire, but your entire neighbor hood. They must be good at it, taking millions of dollars in fees from big tobacco companies like Phillip Morris.
Cohn & Wolfe got caught a few years ago conducting a viral marketing campaign, one that offended this guy and others. It seems they used a fictional marketing identity to comment on an intensely personal blog site, with a link to their marketing spiel. Cohn & Wolfe issued an apology that wasn’t an apology, leading one to wonder what their corporate culture will allow.
Still, the most interesting thing is the choice of such an expensive PR firm and one with severely stained hands from dealing with the tobacco industry. Still it makes some sense logically, both the tobacco industry and the stone industry were harming consumers with their product in the same way, lung cancer. It follows that Cohn & Wolfe will understand the science behind the issues. After all, cigarette smoke has a very high radioactive content.
Still, the MIA’s choice of PR firms shows the reality of what they face. They need a firm with experience in the potential cancer risks of a product, and one that doesn’t mind getting down in the dirt to defend a known health risk product. Still, it will be interesting if the media holds this against the MIA.
Upon learning that Cohn & Wolfe was such a large firm, one wonders why the massive mistakes were made late last week and continued into this week. An inept intern at Cohn & Wolfe running the MIA effort? An out of control client? How is it possible that they would make claims of EPA support, only to have to retract days later? How is it possible that they would hand over to their opposition their entire strategy, including form letters, instructions to their members, and talking points?
So I am left wondering if the MIA’s choice of PR firms is going to help them or harm them. Regardless, the choice of firms has make it easy to dismiss their rebuttals.
Barry Scott indeed….. I think we will be seeing a lot of Barry Scotts on the inter net.
We recieved copies of these form letters designed by the MIA’s PR firm, Cohn & Wolfe. I won’t go over the innacuracies and outright missinformation in the form letter, that has been addressed in other blog articles.
It is important to point out that Dr. Sugarman’s new granite countertops were of a low radiation color, tested prior to fabrication. This is what all of us in the effort are saying, test before buying, but some granites are just fine for use in a home.
Letters For Stone Industry People to be Sent to Ad Reps for Stations and Newspapers Covering the Radon Issue
City, ST Zip
Dear (Ad Rep):
I have a longstanding business relationship with your news outlet, and am shocked at the story you ran last week on granite countertops.
Your story portrayed granite countertops as an imminent danger, and my customers are panicking. But the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has this to say about the issue:
“EPA has no reliable data to conclude that the types of granite used in countertops are significantly increasing indoor radon levels.”
Your story, based on junk science peddled by people who will gain financially from a public panic because they test for radon or sell competing products, did not contain the EPA’s statement, which was based on real science. By not quoting the EPA, you fuel groundless consumer fears. I have customers who literally are afraid to live in their own homes!
In addition, your reprint of the New York Times story failed to note that the home of Lynn Sugarman, a pediatrician who replaced granite countertops, is in Lake George, N.Y., a region with some of the highest levels of naturally-occurring radiation in the U.S. It would have been helpful for your readers/viewers to know this. I think it’s also shocking that you didn’t notice the article says the granite countertops were replaced with – GRANITE COUNTERTOPS. If granite is so dangerous, why buy more?
I expect the story to be corrected as quickly as possible, with the EPA’s statement cited as prominently as the junk science was in your previous piece. Your (readers/viewers) deserve to hear the true science behind this, and it’s your responsibility as a respected news outlet to make sure that they do. If you need more information, please let me know.
Then here is the MIA’s second letter to be sent to local media or advertisers. It will hardly endear them to the media.
City, ST Zip
Dear (ad rep):
We have been doing business together for a long time, and in the last year alone I have spent XXX on advertising at your (NEWS OUTLET).
That’s why I am shocked that you would run a story that fundamentally attacks my business. Your piece last week on granite countertops was based on junk science, and the people you quoted – who are in the radon-testing industry – stand to benefit from the pain the story will cause me. The sources’ personal interest in passing along misinformation about granite countertops’ supposed safety hazards should have been noted by your editors before the story ran.
Last Friday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a statement based on true science saying it has no reliable information to conclude that types of granite used in countertops are significantly increasing indoor radon levels. How come that statement wasn’t cited in your story?
I expect you to follow up with a story based on the EPA’s statement that will correct the misinformation you distributed earlier. Doing so would not only be responsible journalism; it would also help ease the minds of my many customers in your community, who because of your coverage are now panicking. I have customers who are afraid to be in their own homes.
I hope to see this follow-up story in the next several days – the sooner the better – and would like it to have the same prominence you gave your earlier piece. Please call me if you wish to discuss, or if you need me to direct you to the EPA’s statement. It is a news outlet’s job to report all sides of an issue, and you have failed to do so in this case.
There is always some risk that someone skimming a website will not understand why we posted the MIA’s info on our blog. So please add a comment if you have any questions.
Normally, something like this is a closely guarded secret, after all, it makes a PR firm look sloppy and worse, the effort is doomed once the talking points are discovered. After all, they are saying say what we tell you to say, the letters or posts are hardly personal.
The following is a form letter the MIA’s PR firm wrote and distributed to the MIA members to use in responding to the media. Lucky for consumers, the MIA has plenty of members who do not support their attempt to discredit the granite study effort. We received many copies of their latest member email blasts shortly after it was sent out.
The EPA, alarmed that the MIA was using the EPA statement as if it supported the MIA’s claims, had already changed their public statements and website info so that it would be less likely taken out of context. I guess the MIA’s PR firm didn’t get the memo….
For more info from the EPA on the dangers of Radon from granite countertops go here. They have a variety of questions addressed, if not completly answered.
The Consumer Reports study was two small granite remnants left in an empty room for a few days with a meter. It takes 30 days for the Radon to reach maximum levels, so that alone proved that the test was hardly worth bringing up. The type of granite was not mentioned, in fact, it would be impossible to reproduce their test without further details.
This is all that Consumer Reports has released on their Radon/granite countertop test.
“Consumer Reports has done limited radon testing on granite counters. Using a radon meter in a room with the door closed, we tested one sample of granite from two national companies and one slab from a local stone yard. None added any radon to the air. (Look for our report on short-term radon tests kits in the September 2008 issue of Consumer Reports, on sale and online this August.)”
As you can see, it hardly rates bringing up except that it is one of the three pillars the MIA is attempting to use to supporting their arguments. Now that even the MIA has admitted the EPA doesn’t support them, now that we see the Consumer Reports “study” is a near fabrication, all that is left is what few works the MIA has paid for.
Other Radon scientists like Dr. Steck and Dr. Kitto are finding granite samples that would raise Radon levels signigicantly. Calling PhD level University Professors work “Junk science” is hardly an unbiased opinion. Radon engineers like Bill Brodhead of PA, Stan Liebert of NY, and William Levy of FL are seeing that some granites may well contribute enough Radon to a home to cause a problem. Of the three, only Levy has not yet tested samples of the granite that we are providing, which will be quickly done once our samples arrive. Levy has 18 years of experience with concrete emitting Radon.
The University of Akron study is the Chyi study, read the post where I provide Chyi’s email proving that unlike the other scientists, he is not going to answer any questions.
And the MIA claiming that granite emits from 200 to 400 times less than the EPA action level?
Well, their own study that they paid Chyi to do showed one granite adding .27 pCi/L of Radon to the home in their example. Few independent scientists will support that unpublished study, but if we accept it as good science, it shows only 14 times less Radon than the action level, so how can the MIA claim 200 to 400 times less Radon when their own study says 14?
The “one millionth” less Radon from a granite countertop? Again, not according to their own Dr. Chyi! How can a trade association publish such contradictions and remain credible?
And testing for Radon using Geiger counters? No, what a Geiger counter does is show absolute proof that there is radioactivity present which proves that Radon is present (if the radioactivity is Uranium based, and the majority of it is). The parent element is Uranium which slowly decays until it reaches Radium, which decays into Radon gas. So the Geiger counters are simply showing both the source of the Radon gas, and the daughter products (or what radioactive particles remain after the Radon decays).
A test for Radon takes a while, but one can show that radiation is present with a simple meter.
And they claim “wristwatch faces, smoke detectors and television sets.”?????
Laughable! A TV set is hardly detectable except for the Radon radioactive daughter particles that stick to it. That is right, after the Radon decays, it turns into a heavy metal atom, Polonium, Bismuth, or Lead. These atoms like to stick to dust particles because of the negative charge, which in turn are attracted to TV and Computer screens, even dryer lint can be slightly radioactive from the Radon decay progeny.
A wristwatch face gives a yearly dose of from .6 to 3 mR, which many granites emit per hour, making a granite countertop give off a thousand times more radiation based on strength of the radiation. Now factor in that the Radium or Tritum in a watch face is a few milligrams or picograms, then consider a ton of granite that is your granite countertop. Laughable!!!
A smoke detector exposes us to less than a millirem of radiation each year. Again Laughable!!!
And their claims that this is all motivated because Quartz products are losing market? Not true, while no true fan of Quartz, it was the fastest growing countertop product last year.
So as you can see, the MIA has little to use in their defense, but plenty of misinformation in their post. I wonder if this is a case of a PR firm needing fired or is it more about an out of control client?
Here is the MIA’s talking points intended for use in debates.
UPDATED RADON MESSAGES
July 28, 2008
This is an artificial crisis. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Consumer Reports and repeated independent studies have shown granite countertops pose no health hazard.
o EPA stated Friday: “EPA has no reliable data to conclude that types of granite used in countertops are significantly increasing indoor radon levels.” (http://iaq.custhelp.com/cgibin/iaq.cfg/php/enduser/std_alp.php)
o University of Akron researchers found no threat. (www.marble-institute.com/industryresources/radontesting_u-akron2008.pdf)
Radon is all around us. Radon is common throughout the United States, typically entering homes through cracks in their foundations or through the water supply.
o The EPA’s prescribed remedy for radon is to ventilate a home affected by the problem.
Research shows granite countertops pose no threat. An independent scientific analysis of a variety of studies shows that, accounting for normal airflow in the typical home, radon contributed by granite countertops ranges from 0.01 – 0.02 pCi/L – levels that are 200 to 400 times lower than the EPA guideline of 4 pCi/L.
o By some measures, the amount of radon emitted by a granite countertop is less than one millionth of that already present in household air from other sources. Many granite countertops do not emit radon at all, and those treated with sealant reduce emissions even further.
The panic is being fueled by parties hoping to benefit financially. Consumer fears benefit companies that manufacture synthetic countertops, who are funding some of the fear-mongering efforts, and by radon detection consultants, who will benefit through the sale of their services.
o Many accusers improperly test for radon using Geiger counters, which cannot measure radon concentrations.
o The emissions they record would be similar to those from wristwatch faces, smoke detectors and television sets.
o Sale of synthetic stone countertops have declined as the popularity of granite has grown in recent years.
Well, heck. I would fire the PR group that thought this one up. Here it is in it’s enitirety. Not exactly subtle.
Thanks to KN, MIA member, who provided this info.
Follow-up Letter to Customers Concerned About Radon
I just wanted to write as a follow-up to our conversation today. I appreciate your taking the time to share your concerns about granite countertops – and I’m only sorry that irresponsible people are spreading fear that preys on consumers’ concerns.
As I mentioned to you earlier, the safety of granite countertops has been studied repeatedly in the United States. Every study has consistently found that the granite most commonly used in countertops is safe.
Unfortunately, some people who sell synthetic stone counters, have sought to raise needless concerns about granite – and, ultimately, drive sales of their own products – by conducting a fear-mongering campaign aimed at convincing consumers to buy products that don’t have the history, durability, safety and beauty of granite.
I remain confident in granite. That’s why I chose it for my own family’s home. But I understand your reservations. If you’d like to see some of the scientific research undertaken in the area, please visit www.marble-institute.com. If there is anything else I can help with, please don’t hesitate to call me.
The MIA sent out an email to their members admiting that the EPA did not support their claim that granite was safe. The message is below in it’s entirety.
They start out with a complete fabrication, that they were meeting that very day with the EPA. In fact, their meeting is sceduled for Wensday morning.
From: Marble Institute [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Tuesday, July 29, 2008 3:35 PM
Subject: MIA Radon Update – 7/29/08
Visit us online at:
For more information contact:
Dear MIA Member:
On Tuesday, we are meeting with the EPA to solicit their support. But the Agency appears to be backing away from last Friday’s strong reassurances about granite countertops. We hope to engage them in efforts to allay groundless fears, but it’s not clear what the reaction will be.
However, we continue to wrestle with lingering media coverage of the NYT story based on junk science that suggests granite countertops may pose a health risk.
Here’s what we’re doing to fight the situation:
We are meeting with the U.S. EPA right now to ask their cooperation in aggressively publicizing the agency’s support for granite. While the EPA normally does not make such public statements, we are urging them to do this since their comments in last Thursday’s New York Times contributed to the public panic we face.
To expand our efforts to recruit independent, qualified experts to calm the groundless fears, we are working with scientific consulting firms that have access to researchers with impeccable credentials. We have yet to find any scientists who demonstrate any concern about granite countertops. In fact, they seem overwhelmingly supportive of our efforts and incredulous that the media are reporting the junk science.
We are working with independent researchers to assess the implications of past scientific studies on granite countertops. While opponents have exaggerated the import of these studies, one research group advises us that most findings reported to date are flawed because they ignore ventilation and air transfer commonly found in homes. That means most radon-scare studies assume people lived in totally sealed buildings, not homes with windows, doors and vent fans that allow radon gas to escape.
We are doing media outreach both nationally and locally. Reporters are most interested in the story angle that consumers are being needlessly panicked by junk science. Several journalists have asked for access to affected consumers. We have anecdotes – someone reported that they heard a consumer moved his family into a hotel to get away from the granite counters in their kitchen – but we need to offer up specific consumers. Please forward any specific names (firstname.lastname@example.org), contact information and stories if you have them.
Now we want to take the effort to the grassroots. To that end, we have developed some draft letters that we ask MIA members to send to their advertising contacts in local media. The letters express disappointment that the media outlet ran the New York Times story – or another ill-informed story – and demand that factual stories be published to provide balance. We are not advocating a media boycott, but we do encourage you to send a personalized version of these notes to the loc
We also recommend that you individually engage in media communication – by sending letters to the editor using the draft letters as a guide or by posting entries on the blogs where you see granite maligned. Attached to this note, please find some messages you should feel free to use in these posts.
We are rallying international members to get involved. They are concerned about the false allegations and support for our defense of the industry. We hope to report on additional progress on this front.
We are working with a researcher who has done preliminary radiation assessments of granite and other solid surface material. Preliminary findings suggest that several synthetic stone products are as radioactive as granite.
We have created updated radon messages that can be used in conversations with customers and all concerned parties.
All this is really only the tip of the iceberg. In coming days, we’ll try to provide you more information about specific activities underway – as well as more information you might be able to use as you deal with clients.
As always, visit the MIA Website for the latest information.
Keep monitoring the situation and share any public feedback you notice.
Marble Institute of America
It looks like they are going to try to twist the EPA’s arms or something. And hiring consultants to do studies? No one is going to believe the study if they set the protocol and the study isn’t published.
And AARST, American Association of Radon Scientists and Technicians, met with the EPA today on setting proper protocols for testing granite for Radon and radiaition. Far better that a impartial group with much experience in Radon set the protocol than the MIA itself.
The references to some Radon studies being flawed, hardly that. In fact the MIA study followed the same protocol. Test the samples in a closed container, then extrapolate the results using cubic footage and square footage of countetop, then adding a air exchange factor.
Notice that they don’t really have any scared consumers just yet, but they will when the manufacture a few. Give em a few days. That and their form letters for granite shops to fill out and send off or post on forums, they will fabricate some buzz.
They mention the researchers that claims radioactive engineered stone. That would be Dr. Hans Henson, a thoughly discredited geologist who according to one of his friends, was hired to “dirt up” the engineered stone industry. I have personally ran up against Dr. Hans, he refuses to answer simple questions on his claims.
So the MIA must be getting pretty discouraged by now. It would be much better to just get it over with.