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Expat wanderer

Pollution Invading Kuwait Hospitals

Thanks to long time Kuwaiti-blogger Hilaliya who alerts us to this article from Al Watan.

Americans put this same granite in their kitchens, and are now paying to have their beautiful granite countertops radon tested – and pulled out. Imagine preparing food on countertops that emit radiation! Imagine inviting patients into a hospital emitting radiation! Some granites emit more radiation than others – these need to be radon tested.

Pollution is invading our hospitals
Dr. Essam Abdullatif AlـFulaij

It seems that we need an uprising at the Ministry of Health. Patients as well as doctors and staff are at risk because of the use of inappropriate construction materials which cause pollution. Despite the warnings of some engineers, the officials at the ministry neglected the issue and concealed the facts so as not to get involved.

In August 2008, Amar magazine published a report by engineer Fotouh AlـAsfour in which she strenuously rang the alarm over what is happening at our hospitals. She submitted the report to two former health ministers and the Ministry of Health”s Engineering Department, members of the Municipal Council and the Parliament but no action was taken.

In her report, Fotouh said: “Having designed and supervised the construction of hospitals and medical centers for the health sector, I know the standards and specifications for materials used in hospitals to protect patients, visitors and hospital staff from microbial contamination. The project to renew hospitals, which began several years ago, has largely contributed to the deterioration of health conditions of both citizens and residents and the mortality rate has increased due to the high level of pollution caused by microbial contaminated materials that were used in the modernization of these hospitals in the absence of proper guidance and control.”

She added: “The use of granite in hospitals is not recommend at all as it is the second biggest cause of lung cancer after smoking, as reported by the American Lung Association. Granite radiates “radon gas” and its impact is worse when using the kind produced by China. It is really strange that granite has been used to decorate the entrance and most wings at the Hussein Makki Jumaa Center for Cancer Treatment.”

Engineer Fotouh stressed the importance of urgent attention saying: “In conclusion, the main reason behind writing this report is not criticism or accusation, but to attract officials” attention to urgently deal with the issue. Reform is not costly and should not be postponed, because the price of further delay is the loss of more lives. A specialized committee must be formed to follow up the issue and replace these materials with medical materials, especially in the Operating Rooms, Intensive Care Units and premature babies wards, causalities, and then in other awards.”

We hope that the report will be considered by officials to protect our patients and hospital staff. It”s time to stop these deadly dangers that are even affecting doctors. The lives of human beings are precious.

Last updated on Friday 10/10/2008


October 11, 2008 - Posted by | Community, ExPat Life, Financial Issues, Health Issues, Kuwait, Living Conditions, News, Technical Issue


  1. Granite? I never knew that!
    How terrible. Why is this not a commonly known issue? We use granite everywhere.

    Comment by jewaira | October 11, 2008 | Reply

  2. a little radiation never hurt anyone , radiation kills germs and bacteria .

    Did you know that in Dooms Day food vaults maintained by Governments around the world as food stock pile for surviovors of World War III , all the food has been radiated for long term storage and use , like for instance Potatoes can last more than 100 years without going rotten.

    Also the Germans in world war two produced a radioactive tooth paste to ensure proper mouth hygiene for their population.

    and we had tons of depleted uranium used in desert storm and in operation Iraqi freedom and it seems all is A-OK.

    it is all true facts

    but i think i will go to radio shack and get me a Geiger Gage just in case and store it next to my gas masks collection from the last war.


    Comment by daggero | October 11, 2008 | Reply

    • Depleted uranium causes birth defects and pollution. It is the reason why afghans and iraqis are being born with never beofre seen birth defects and problems. The dust of depleted uranium contaminates water and air, dont go and thell me that this horrible wepaon is Aok because it is not.I supose next ur going to say white phosphorous is Aok when it burns skin to bone

      Comment by Abdullah | May 2, 2009 | Reply

  3. Does it mean I need to renovate my kitchen?

    Comment by Don Veto | October 11, 2008 | Reply

  4. meh ……. radiation is the least of our worries …. trust me …..

    Comment by KTDP | October 11, 2008 | Reply

  5. Here is what it says in the New York Times:

    The E.P.A. recommends taking action if radon gas levels in the home exceeds 4 picocuries per liter of air (a measure of radioactive emission); about the same risk for cancer as smoking a half a pack of cigarettes per day. In Dr. Sugarman’s kitchen, the readings were 100 picocuries per liter. In her basement, where radon readings are expected to be higher because the gas usually seeps into homes from decaying uranium underground, the readings were 6 picocuries per liter.

    The average person is subjected to radiation from natural and manmade sources at an annual level of 360 millirem (a measure of energy absorbed by the body), according to government agencies like the E.P.A. and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The limit of additional exposure set by the commission for people living near nuclear reactors is 100 millirem per year. To put this in perspective, passengers get 3 millirem of cosmic radiation on a flight from New York to Los Angeles.

    A “hot” granite countertop like Dr. Sugarman’s might add a fraction of a millirem per hour and that is if you were a few inches from it or touching it the entire time.

    So we are all getting a little radiation all the time, but in some circumstances, we get a little more. In Florida, it is the law when you buy a house that it has to be radon tested before you buy it. SOME granites give off more radiation than others.

    Comment by intlxpatr | October 11, 2008 | Reply

  6. And isn’t it beautiful, Jewaira? Only some of the more exotic granites have higher levels of radiation.

    LLOOLL Daggero, except for the part about radioactive particles still in Kuwait; there may be health ramifications we don’t know about.

    Don Veto – any excuse will do!

    KTDP – I believe you. Every word you say. I am a fan and I imagine you are a very conscientious doctor.

    Comment by intlxpatr | October 11, 2008 | Reply

  7. The use of granite in hospitals is not recommend at all as it is the second biggest cause of lung cancer after smoking, as reported by the American Lung Association.

    Tell me my friend, where is that the American Lung Association says that? Show us, please, show us where we can read that granite is the second leading cause of cancer after smoking.

    Comment by Xabarax | October 12, 2008 | Reply

  8. Well, Radon comes from granite beneath your home as well as the granite tiles and granite countertops. The EPA is on record saying that Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. Is it a perfect comparision? No, but the link is there. The facts are indisputable.

    However, the Radon and radiation from the granite used in the hospitals is really a secondary conern. The fact that granite supports a lot of bacteria is well known. There is even a NASA funded study that found over 100,000 bacteria per gram of stone from desert granite outcropping, with DNA anaylsis proving that the bacteria were reproducing INSIDE the stone.

    I have spoken with lab directors about testing granite and have been warned that unless the sides and backs of the samples were completely sealed, the porosity would lower the levels of bacteria recovered in the tests, resulting in an artificially low number of bacterial growth reported by the testing. It seems that when the samples are rinsed so that they bacteria can be counted, the surface tension of the water and the pores in the granite actually suck the bacteria into the stone.

    So the Kuwait warning is not something to be dismissed. These doctors and engineers would not be making these claims of increased mortality unless they had the facts to back it up.

    Comment by Al | October 12, 2008 | Reply

  9. No, Xabarax, it is the Environmental Protection Agency, and I believe they are speaking specifically about lung cancer. These findings came out this last summer. It’s not that hard to find.

    Thank you, Al, for giving us more – and specific – information. I checked your blog; fascinating information.

    Comment by intlxpatr | October 12, 2008 | Reply

  10. I tend to agree with the EPA statement that Granite is the second leading cause of cancer after cigarette smoking due to the fact that many people have resorted to snorting granite instead of cocaine as their discretionary income has been greatly reduced because of the current financial meltdown

    Comment by daggero | October 12, 2008 | Reply

  11. Daggero! You are up this early in the morning? LOL @ your comment.

    Comment by intlxpatr | October 12, 2008 | Reply

  12. goood morning intlxpatr ,

    this radio active stuff is freaking me out , just imagine another risk to the maids in top of everything else , the maids may turn radio active and spreads radiations in the house without knowing it

    Comment by daggero | October 12, 2008 | Reply

  13. Daggero, you are showing signs of over-caffeinization!

    Comment by intlxpatr | October 12, 2008 | Reply

  14. Maids spreading radiation? Maybe with her cleaning rag that has some leached uranium on it. The danger is not so much spreading radiation from granite, it is being irradiated. Once irradiated, you aren’t “radioactive” and able to irradiate others, you just have some tissue and DNA damage that your body will try to repair.

    Remember the Juparana Bordeaux granite countertop that made the news down in Houston Texas? What the TV report didn’t tell you was that there were four deaths in that home prior to the granite being removed. One maid died of cancer, the wife of the previous homeowner survived a brain tumor, and the homeowner at the time of the TV report had two cats die from cancer.

    Is it proof that the granite caused the cancer cluster? Not at all, but the fact that the granite was pretty hot and was raising the Radon level to serious levels is enough that the granite was removed.

    Another little known fact about granite, it is loaded with heavy metals that are leachable when cleaning with cleaning supplies, even plain old soap and water will leach some of the toxins. Uranium bearing granite samples can be left outside for a few months, and rainwater will leave a white or yellow crust under the stone, which is uranium being leached out of the stone. Some uranium “mines” are not mines at all, but “in situ leaching operations” where very slightly acidic water is pumped into the ground at one well, then pumped back out at another well, then the uranuim is precipitated out with a chemical reaction. The water is then repumped back into the ground to pick up more uranium.

    Most granites seem to be relitively safe for radiation, perhaps two to three times normal background radiation, but even that has a small cancer risk. If background radiation will give you a 3 in 10,000 per year additional cancer risk, doubling or trippling that low dose takes it to 6 to 9 extra cancers per 10,000 exposed per year. But the ones to really worry about are those that are six, sixty, even two hundred times normal background radiation levels.

    I sell it, after we test the slabs and find the lowest possible slabs, but I tell customers that I would not put it in my home.

    Comment by Al | October 12, 2008 | Reply

  15. Al, how about the new quartz composites that are out there? Silestone, CeaserStone, etc?

    Comment by intlxpatr | October 13, 2008 | Reply

  16. This post is the best thing ever happened to Corian worktops

    Comment by daggero | October 13, 2008 | Reply

  17. Maybe, Daggero. I think there are other alternatives. Wood – like butcher block. Stainless steel, if you don’t mind that industrial look. Good old traditional marble, for a clean, classic look (oh, PLEASE don’t tell me marble also has radiation problems!)

    Comment by intlxpatr | October 13, 2008 | Reply

  18. I have had only a few Ceasur Stone samples checked, but have had entire sample boxes of Silestone, Cambria, Hanstone, and Staron tested. No Radon found except for minisule amounts in one or two colors of one brand.

    Marble? The Saudi study found some radiation and Radon, but it was only around 1/3 of the granites in the study. Could there be serious levels? Likely, but not proven yet cause few if any are looking at it.

    Comment by Al Gerhart | March 1, 2009 | Reply

  19. Thanks, Al. I went with Silestone, but I am also looking at marble for another house . . . 🙂

    Comment by intlxpatr | March 1, 2009 | Reply

  20. would u please send me further references of freshnews research of RADON TESTS on granite or china clay ceramic.Its a pretty enough to have such a distinguish information for the technical peoples in constructions…………….regards

    Comment by Ashraf Ali | June 4, 2009 | Reply

  21. Ashraf Ali – I am sorry, this is not my field of expertise; I just brought the news article to people’s attention. 😦

    Comment by intlxpatr | June 4, 2009 | Reply

  22. The use of granite in all the hospitals are not recommended as the second largest cause of lung cancer after smoking. Honestly the first time I hear of such information. When that statement was proven and that the chemist to prove and how? Smoking can not be compared with a working plates. Worktops can not radiate. In my company are all regularly tested from the institutions that perform the job and has never been found to be of granite can get lung cancer.

    Comment by MAG Projekt GmbH | June 8, 2012 | Reply

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