SHORTLY before Lynn Sugarman of Teaneck, N.J., bought her summer home in Lake George, N.Y., two years ago, a routine inspection revealed it had elevated levels of radon, a radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer. So she called a radon measurement and mitigation technician to find the source.
â€œHe went from room to room,â€ said Dr. Sugarman, a pediatrician. But he stopped in his tracks in the kitchen, which had richly grained cream, brown and burgundy granite countertops. His Geiger counter indicated that the granite was emitting radiation at levels 10 times higher than those he had measured elsewhere in the house.
â€œMy first thought was, my pregnant daughter was coming for the weekend,â€ Dr. Sugarman said. When the technician told her to keep her daughter several feet from the countertops just to be safe, she said, â€œI had them ripped out that very day,â€ and sent to the state Department of Health for analysis. The granite, it turned out, contained high levels of uranium, which is not only radioactive but releases radon gas as it decays. â€œThe health risk to me and my family was probably small,â€ Dr. Sugarman said, â€œbut I felt it was an unnecessary risk.â€