Does Chinese Quartz Countertop Have Radiation?

Quartz countertops have become immensely popular in recent years due to their durability, appearance, and ease of maintenance. However, some concerns have been raised regarding potential radiation emissions from quartz countertops, especially those manufactured in China. In this article, we’ll examine the facts about radiation and Chinese quartz countertops.

What is Quartz Countertop Made Of?

Quartz countertops, sometimes referred to as engineered stone, are made from ground natural quartz crystals combined with resins, polymers, and pigments under heat and pressure. The exact ratio varies by manufacturer, but quartz countertops contain approximately 90% ground quartz along with 10% polymer resins and pigments.

The quartz provides strength, hardness, and scratch resistance, while the resins bind the material together. Pigments are added to achieve the desired color and pattern. The mixture is molded into slabs which can then be cut and fabricated into countertops.

Does Quartz Emit Radiation?

Natural quartz crystals, like many natural stones, contain trace amounts of uranium and radium which are radioactive elements. However, the levels of radiation emitted from intact natural quartz crystals are very low, comparable to background radiation we’re all exposed to from natural sources.

The grinding process used to produce quartz countertops does release some of the natural radioactivity found in quartz crystals. However, the finished countertop products meet stringent radiation safety standards.

Radioactivity Standards for Quartz Countertops

The EPA has established limits on acceptable radiation levels for building products, including a maximum allowable dose of 0.3 mrem/hr for surface emissions. This is equal to the radiation dose received from about 3 hours of average background environmental radiation.

Quartz countertop products made in the US and other regulated countries like Canada and the EU must meet these standards. Testing has shown radiation emissions from quartz countertops to be a small fraction of the allowable limit, comparable to granite countertops.

Are Chinese Quartz Countertops a Concern?

Some concerns have been raised that Chinese-made quartz countertops may have higher radioactivity levels, as China lacks consistent regulation and quality control standards.

A few testing studies have found that some Chinese quartz products emit radiation at levels considerably higher than US/EU standards. However, most samples were still within acceptable limits, so elevated radiation can’t be generalized to all Chinese quartz.

There is also no evidence that most of the quartz imports from China are used for countertops. China does export large quantities of quartz, but much is for other industrial uses.

Tips for Purchasing Chinese Quartz

For those concerned about possible radiation emissions from Chinese quartz, here are some tips when purchasing:

  • Purchase from reputable American or Canadian brand names: Major companies like Caesarstone and Cambria have very strict standards and typically do not use Chinese quartz.
  • Ask about country of origin: Many suppliers can provide information on where the raw quartz is sourced from. Select options that say “Made in USA” or specify non-Chinese origin.
  • Look for independent certification: Several organizations like NSF International provide radiological testing certification which can be requested from the manufacturer.
  • Test radiation: For added assurance, you can hire an inspector to test radiation emissions. Levels under 0.3 mrem/hr are safe.
  • Seal with a coating: Applying a coating or epoxy sealant effectively blocks any potential radiation from quartz.

The Bottom Line

While there is some risk of elevated radiation from quartz sourced from China, most imports meet safety standards. Consumers can take steps like buying branded American products or having materials tested to minimize concerns. With appropriate testing and regulation, quartz countertops, including imports, can be safely used in homes. By purchasing from reputable companies and requesting radiation certificates, you can enjoy the benefits of beautiful quartz countertops with peace of mind.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is all quartz radioactive?

A: Natural quartz contains trace amounts of radioactive elements like uranium and radium. However, radiation levels from intact quartz are very low and comparable to natural background radiation we are exposed to daily. The processing and manufacturing of quartz countertops can release a small portion of this natural radioactivity. However, quartz products made in regulated countries must meet radiation safety limits set by EPA.

Q: Should I be worried about radiation from quartz countertops?

A: For quartz countertops made in the US, EU, Canada or other regulated countries, radiation is well below safety limits. Chinese imports have shown more variable radiation levels, though most still meet standards. To minimize any risks from Chinese quartz, purchase from major brands that control sourcing, request radiation test results, or test levels yourself. With reasonable precautions, quartz countertops pose very minimal radiation risks.

Q: How can quartz countertops be tested for radiation?

A: Specialized testing labs and some home inspector services can measure the radiation emissions from a installed quartz countertop using a Geiger counter or scintillation monitor. Emissions should be below 0.3 mrem/hr, the safety limits set by EPA and other agencies. This testing can provide added assurance.

Q: Should quartz countertops be sealed to prevent radiation exposure?

A: Applying a coating or epoxy sealer will block any potential radiation emissions from quartz or other stones. This can offer extra protection, though is generally not required for countertops that meet regulatory standards. Sealing is also beneficial to prevent staining and damage to the surface.

Q: Does distance from quartz countertops reduce radiation exposure?

A: Radiation drops off sharply with distance. Simply standing 3-4 feet from a quartz countertop reduces exposure significantly. EPA testing requirements assume sitting or standing right against the surface, so maintaining some distance further reduces any minimal risks.


While sourcing and quality control issues can lead to variability, responsible quartz manufacturers ensure their products meet stringent radiation safety guidelines. Consumers should feel confident choosing quartz countertops, which offer hygienic, low-maintenance, and beautiful options for kitchen and bath remodeling. With a few sensible precautions, any risks of radiation exposure from quartz countertops made in China or elsewhere can be minimized without sacrificing the many benefits.