Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Microban protection inhibits the growth of microbes ...

such as odor-causing bacteria, mold and mildew. While Microban protection does not protect users from foodborne illness and is not a substitute for normal cleaning practices, it does result in countertops that are easier to clean and stay clean.
[more http://www.silestoneusa.com/]

What do expert scientists say about adding Microban to consumer goods?
Several noted microbiologists have said that adding Microban to many consumer goods is unnecessary, and some have even called it a "marketing gimmick."
Not only have experts said that the benefits of Microban are questionable, but many are also concerned that the wide-spread use of these substances may cause a major public health problem. Researchers are concerned that repeated use of products containing triclosan could be breeding resistant bacteria, or "superbugs." A 1998 Tufts University study showed that over-exposure created five different triclosan-resistant strains of E. coli. According to Tufts' Dr. Stuart Levy, "If the idea is to sterilize surfaces, it is misguided. You can't sterilize surfaces that are open to the air. You will not eliminate bacteria, but rather replace them with other micro-organisms which could be potentially harmful."
[more http://www.rhtubs.com/microban.htm]

U.S. Consumers Overwhelmingly Prefer Granite Over Any Other Countertop Surface for...

CLEVELAND, Oct. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- A new national survey finds that byoverwhelming majorities U.S. consumers prefer granite countertops to any othercountertop surface for their dream kitchen and believe that granitecountertops increase the resale value of a home.The survey of 2,021 U.S. adults aged 18+ was conducted by HarrisInteractive on behalf of the Marble Institute of America. It asked respondentswhich countertop surface they would most want in their dream kitchen. At 55percent, "granite countertops" was by far the most popular response, followeddistantly by synthetic stone at 12 percent. The survey was conducted Oct. 7through 9.When asked how much they agree with the statement "granite countertopsincrease the resale value of a home," 90 percent of the surveyed consumerseither strongly or somewhat agreed.
[more http://www.reuters.com/]

Survey Finds Granite Countertops Still No. 1

January 26, 2009
(NewsUSA) - By overwhelming majorities, American adults prefer granite to any other countertop surface for their dream kitchens, and believe granite countertops increase home resale values, according to a new national surveyĆ¢€™s findings. [more http://www.homedesign.com/]


Another thing to keep in mind is that some manufacturers, particularly those that make quartz countertops, advertise their products as "natural quartz". And natural quartz it is - but it's not purely a slab of quartz that's been quarried and cut to size. Quartz is the key ingredient (usually about 93%), but the product you're getting is still the combination of quartz and other materials.
Some Products Can Be Expensive - Some, not all, engineered stone products can be costly. Cost per square foot will vary based on manufacturer, color and edge treatment.

It's Still Not Real Stone - This is one of those considerations that's dependent on your personal taste. Engineered stone can come "pretty close($$$)" to looking like real stone but it's not the real McCoy and doesn't have the natural variation of real stone.
[more http://www.home- style-choices.com/]

Microban in quartz countertops

Quartz is also a non-porous material, which means it will not promote the growth of mold, mildew or bacteria. One popular brand, Silestone quartz, is taking bacteria protection one step further as the only quartz countertop available to offer built-in Microban (pesticide) antimicrobial protection. However, many consumers view this additional pesticide protection as more of a health risk than a benefit.
Some Quartz Products have a product called Microban (Pesticide) do you want a surface to contain a pesticide? If the surface is solid what is the pesticide for? If it kills bacteria, How, If it can't get to food on the sirface? If it is on the surface then how can it not be attacking my food on the counter or my hand on the surface. Personally I would rather use my own cleaning products.
[ more http://fwnextweb1.fortwayne.com/]

Quartz does have some negative traits.

In our studies, we have found quartz has a propensity to chip and should not be used as a cutting surface And look into the warranties for quartz products. Many do not warranty against regular wear and tear.
However, recently, Realtors have told us that their customers are looking at solid surfaces similar to laminate tops. They say it just doesn't get any "value added" to their customer's homes.
[more http://www.39dollargranite.com/]

Radon, Why the buzz?

Radon has been in the news recently with reports that some granite countertops can release dangerous levels of radon. This isn't a new claim - it surfaced in the 1990s - and it's fairly controversial. In April 2008, BuildClean, a nonprofit that aims to educate consumers about safe and healthy building materials, made news when it announced that its pilot project would provide free in-home radon testing of 300 homes in Houston to determine whether granite countertops emit harmful levels of radon. It's worth noting that two big makers of quartz countertops, Cambria and Cosentino (which also sells granite counters), are the sole funders of BuildClean. "By its nature, granite emits radon - the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S.," said Sara Speer Selber, BuildClean's president, in a press release at the time.
Next, in early May, W.J. Llope, Ph.D., a senior faculty fellow at the T.W. Bonner Nuclear Laboratory at Rice University in Houston, released a report in which he analyzed 18 articles covering 95 granite samples. In "Radiation and Radon from Natural Stone" (PDF download), Llope reported that 92 of the granite samples emitted no or very little radon, though two were in the 3.1-to-3.4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) range, and one registered 4.2. (These measurements assume a hypothetical unventilated room, not a standard home, according to Llope's study.) The EPA estimates that the average indoor radon level is 1.3 pCi/L and suggests that you reduce radon when the level in your home is 4 pCi/L or higher.
Shortly after Llope released his report, the Marble Institute of America trade group announced the results of a study of its own. A professor of geology at the University of Akron tested 52 samples (four each of 13 different types) of the most popular granites used for countertops in the U.S., representing the majority of granite countertops sold here, according to the MIA. Ten added "almost immeasurable amounts of radon to the house," reads the study, while two had radon levels of 0.04 pCi/L. The highest level of radon emitted from one stone was 0.27 pCi/L. The study did not account for natural ventilation in a home, which would dilute the concentration of radon.
Looking for some clarity on this issue, I interviewed Michael Kitto, Ph.D., a research scientist for the New York State Department of Health. As part of a study he's planning to submit for peer review, he measured the radon emissions from more than 40 granite and engineered stones in airtight containers, without ventilation. Kitto found that the engineered stones emitted almost no radon and many of the granite stones were very low emitters of radon. A few stones emitted slightly more radon, and only one emitted a substantial amount of radon. (Kitto defines substantial by saying it could produce from a few to several pCi/L in a room; he adds that the exact value depends on many variables, including kitchen volume and countertop size.) BuildClean and Cosentino also fund Kitto's study. [more http://blogs.consumerreports.org/]

Quartz is Resistent Not Invincible.

Cambria counter tops are extremely resistant to chemicals, heat and scratching (just like granite). But, they are not heat or scratch proof and can be damaged by intense heat, prolonged heat from say a crock pot or certain chemicals and food products such as, wine, vinegar, tea, juice, coffee, soda, some fruits and vegetables if these substances are left to dry.
Cambria vs. GraniteIt's All Marketing. Despite marketing efforts by makers of engineered stone to try and convince you otherwise, there isn't any significant difference regarding performance, function, cleaning or price between granite and Cambria or other brands of quartz counter tops.
[more http://www.countertopspecialty.com/]

Largest Study of Granite Countertops Finds No Stones That Pose Health Threat

Study Samples Measure Less Than Background Levels for Radon, Radiation

source: http://sev.prnewswire.com/health-care-hospitals/

CLEVELAND, Nov. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- The most comprehensive scientific study of health threats from granite countertops did not find a single stone slab that poses a health risk. Quantities of radon and radiation emitted by stones included in the analysis all fell well below average background levels commonly found in the United States.
The scientists conducted more than 400 tests of 115 different varieties of granite countertops, including stones cited in media reports as being potentially problematic. The stones tested include types of granite that comprise approximately 80 percent of the annual U.S. market share for granite countertops, based on the most recent market data available. The study specifically included types of granite most commonly used in countertops in the United States and more exotic stones that represent a tiny share of the market. The study found:
-- Not one stone slab contributed to radon levels that even reached the average U.S. outdoor radon concentration of 0.4 picocuries per liter-- one-tenth the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency level for remedial action within a home. The stone slabs found to emit at higher levels -- though still well below average outdoor background levels -- represent a tiny share of the U.S. market for granite countertops, less than 1 percent of sales.
-- Not a single stone emitted radiation levels that even approached a radiation dose of 0.3 milliSievert per year (mSv/year), the level determined by the European Commission to be negligible for human health risk; the U.S. has no such standard. However, this European standard is just 30 percent of the 1 milliSievert per year annual dose limit recommended for the general public by the National Council for Radiation Protection & Measurements.
Unlike some media reports of questionable scientific accuracy, this study evaluated a large variety of stones and used a number of complementary, well established scientific techniques to assess the exposures that people could have to radon and radiation in real-world environments and to determine whether the presence of these specific stones could compromise consumer health.
"The study showed that you are more likely to have a fatal fall from bed than to develop a health problem related to the most common granite countertops," said Dr. John F. McCarthy, president of Environmental Health & Engineering, the independent environmental testing firm that conducted the study. "Stones were selected for the study based on their prevalence of use as countertops and media reports suggesting specific types of granite pose health risk.
"Our research program was designed to assess exposure and risk to individuals in real world conditions. The scenarios that we evaluated were selected to ensure that they represent what people will really encounter in U.S. homes," McCarthy said. "Our research shows that some of the reports published by the media significantly exaggerate risk because they report raw data without considering real-world conditions as commonly defined by the scientific community. It is very important to put the results of these product evaluations into a context that is meaningful for the consumer."
Study findings are consistent with an earlier review of the scientific literature, which assessed results from every identified study of radon emissions from granite published in the scientific literature to evaluate potential exposures in homes.
The new study is being submitted for peer review and publication in a scientific journal, a process that can take several months.
"Our study included detailed mapping of radiation emitted from various stones that had areas that we identified as being elevated above levels for typical granite countertop material. We found that it's easy to get what appear to be high readings of radon or radiation from a small fraction of granite countertops, but those readings do not reflect the actual risk to consumers because they do not assess the real exposure, only isolated, extreme measurements," McCarthy said. "As with any other type of environmental measurement, assessing the real risk to consumers must take into account more than isolated readings from small spots on a countertop. It must reflect real- world exposure scenarios and be interpreted using well established principles of environmental health."
The study also concluded:
-- Radon levels associated with emissions from granite countertops in homes are low in comparison to typical background levels of radon exposure. In other words, natural stone is a minor contributor to concentrations of radon gas within homes. These findings are consistent with an earlier review of the scientific literature that EH&E performed.
-- Absorbed dose associated with radiation emissions for all of the slabs tested are well below health-protective guidelines, including the exemption limit of 0.3 mSv per year recommended by the European Commission. The United States has yet to establish an exemption level for building products based on radioactivity to our knowledge.
-- A portion of stones used as countertops may contain limited areas that are enriched in radioactive materials relative to the remainder of the slab. The areas of enrichment in the stones evaluated for this study make up a small proportion of the stone, on the order of less than 10 percent of the surface area. Detailed measurements of these enriched areas showed that they make a negligible contribution to potential doses of ionizing radiation.
-- Assessing exposure to radon and radiation requires accounting for duration and frequency of exposure, not just absolute magnitude. Additionally, careful consideration of several key parameters is warranted. For radon, measurements of radon flux from a countertop must account for variability across the countertop surface, the effect of any backing material on the stone, and diffusion through the slab. It is critical that ventilation is accounted for when estimating radon concentrations in indoor air from measurements of radon emissions from stones. For radiation, distance and geometry must be incorporated into dose assessments.
-- While significant variability was observed across stone types, the stones at the lower end of radon emissions were found to account for the vast majority of sales and also exhibited little variability among slabs. The varieties of granite countertop that exhibited the greatest variability of radon flux among slabs represent a small fraction of the U.S. market.
"You can never rule out anything, but [the likelihood of a granite countertop posing any health risk] is as close to zero as you could hope to get about a risk in your life based on what I know," said David Ropeik, risk consultant and author of the book "Risk." "Cumulatively, we have a huge body of evidence that suggests that this particular risk from granite is negligible."
Marble Institute of America President Guido Gliori said, "This study once again proves that granite countertops do not pose the risk that some exaggerated media reports would suggest. While some organizations that benefit financially from consumer concerns about granite attempt to spread panic, this study was designed to withstand the closest scientific scrutiny and should reassure the public about granite countertops."
In the absence of comprehensive, independent scientific analysis of granite countertops, the Marble Institute financed the study as part of its continuing effort to define a standard test protocol to assess radiation and radon emissions from different stones. The goal is to develop protocols for testing granite in the home, in showrooms or fabrication shops and at the quarry. The fact that no single protocol exists has allowed individuals to make claims about granite countertops based on inconsistent and often incorrect tests, methodologies or analyses.
The MIA is working with the scientific community to develop a single, acceptable standard for the proper testing of granite countertops and other granite building material. Work on the standard will involve scientists and several independent and governmental agencies.
A copy of the study's executive summary can be downloaded from the Marble Institute's Web site, www.marble-institute.com.
About EH&E
EH&E (www.eheinc.com) has provided an extensive range of environmental and engineering consulting services for 20 years. The EH&E team consists of more than 60 experts with an outstanding record of providing business-focused solutions for issues that affect the built environment. EH&E has a depth of knowledge and credibility unmatched in the industry. The firm's wealth of readily-accessible information is a powerful resource for its clients.
About the Marble Institute of America
For over 60 years the Marble Institute of America (MIA) has been the world's leading information resource and advocate for the natural dimension stone industry. MIA members include marble, granite, limestone, sandstone, and other natural stone producers and quarriers, fabricators, installers, distributors, and contractors around the world.
Website: http://www.marble-institute.com/ Website: http://www.eheinc.com/

The truth about Granite countertops vs Quartz countertops

3 Reasons Granite is Better than Quartz

  1. "granite countertops increase the resale value of a home," 90 percent of the surveyed consumers either strongly or somewhat agreed.
  2. which countertop surface they would most want in their dream kitchen. At 55 percent, "granite countertops" 12% Solid Surfaces
  3. U.S. Consumers Overwhelmingly Prefer Granite Over Any Other Countertop Surface for their dream kitchen and believe that granite countertops increase the resale value of a home. (Solid surfaces are compaired to Laminate and do not add to the perceived value)

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