Journal of Environmental Protection, 2013, 4, 41-48
Published Online December 2013 (
Open Access JEP
Radiological Hazards for Marble and Granite Used at
Shak El Thouban Industrial Zone in Egypt
Amany T. Sroor1, Saher M. Darwish2*, Samia M. El-Bahi1, Mohamed G. Abdel Karim2
1Nuclear Physics Laboratory, Faculty of Girls, Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt; 2Physics Department, Faculty of Science, Cairo
University, Giza, Egypt.
Email: *
Received October 1st, 2013; revised October 31st, 2013; accepted November 28th, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Amany T. Sroor et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License,
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. In accor-
dance of the Creative Commons Attribution License all Copyrights © 2013 are reserved for SCIRP and the owner of the intellectual
property Amany T. Sroor et al. All Copyright © 2013 are guarded by law and by SCIRP as a guardian.
The background level of radiation in the natural environment surrounds us at all times. Levels of natural occurring ra-
dioactivity in marble and granite used at Shak El Thouban industrial zone in Cairo, Egypt have been investigated using
HPGe detector through gamma-ray spectrometry. The activity concentration of radionuclides in the 238U-, 232Th-series
and 40K has been determined. The average activity concentration of 238U, 232Th and 40K for marble samples was 23.77
Bq/kg ranged from (10.91 to 45.4), 10.75 Bq/kg ranged from (5.46 to 23.61) and 520.43 Bq/kg ranged from (382.30 to
1132.41), respectively. The 238 U, 232Th and 40K activity concentration for granite samples were 54.31 Bq/kg ranged
from (12.04 to 106.34), 113.57 Bq/kg ranged from (23.91 to 270.36) and 7867.51 Bq/kg ranged from (2017.60 to
11436.91), respectively. Concerning the radiological risk, the radium equivalent activity, external and internal radiation
hazard indices, the radiation level index and absorbed dose rate were evaluated. The mass exhalation rates of 222Rn and
emanation coefficient have been also calculated. The mass exhalation rate of radon was found to be from 14.86 to
137.13 and 16.48 to 155.26 µBq/kg·s for marble and granite samples, respectively. The mean values of the specific ac-
tivity of 226Ra, activity of 238U before and after sealing time and the mass exhalation rate of radon for granite samples
are twice that for marble samples. All radiological indices and the mass exhalation rate of radon are lower than the per-
missible levels for building material in all marble samples, while all granite samples are higher and unsafe and pose a
risk to the workers and users of these products due to the emanation of radon that may accumulate by time, especially in
closed spaces.
Keywords: Radiological Hazards; Marble; Granite; HPGe Detector; Shak El Thouban
1. Introduction
Since the Earth formed and life developed, background
radiation has been our constant companion. Primordial
radionuclides are found around the globe in igneous and
sedimentary rock. These radionuclides migrate from
rocks into soil, water, and even air. Human activities
such as uranium mining have also redistributed these
radionuclides. Primordial radionuclides include the series
of radionuclides produced when uranium and thorium
decay, as well as potassium-40. Usually much attention
is paid to 226Ra due to 222Rn exhalation and the subse-
quent internal exposure that a person constantly inhales.
The specific activities of 238U, 232Th and 40K in building
raw materials (such as cement, brick, concrete, soil, mar-
ble, granite, sand, etc.) mainly depend on their geological
sites of origin and their geochemical characteristics.
Therefore, knowledge of radiation levels and basic ra-
diological parameters in building materials is essential to
assess possible risks to human health.
Over the past decade, a number of studies have been
reported on the activity concentrations of natural ra-
dionuclides for marble and granite samples obtained
from different countries in the world [1-7].
As a result of its geological location, Egypt possesses
very rich natural stone (mainly marble and granite) re-
serves in various colors and patterns [8]. Natural stone
has become the standard material used for many luxu-
rious homes and high price apartments. Marble and gra-
*Corresponding author.
Radiological Hazards for Marble and Granite Used at Shak El Thouban Industrial Zone in Egypt
nite are used for cooking work places, bathrooms, en-
trance halls and living rooms. Accordingly there is a
good demand for tiles, especially marble for interior
flooring owing to its aesthetic features, whereas granite is
chiefly used for exterior cladding and in the funerary art
The area of Shak El Thouban in Katameyya has be-
come a conglomeration of around 400 factories consti-
tuting 60% to 70% of marble and granite factories in
Egypt working in the marble and granite industry. More
than two thousand workshops for complementary indus-
tries employ about 25 thousand workers other than 30
thousand workers indirect employment. Problems in
these regions are outbreak of a group of diseases (e.g.:
tinea, intestinal colic and chest disease) among workers
in Shak El Thouban as a result of drinking water and
food contamination. Marble and granite industry has
stone waste in generally a highly polluting waste due to
both its highly alkaline nature and its manufacturing and
processing techniques, which impose a health threat to
the surroundings. Shak El Thouban industrial cluster in
Egypt is imposing an alarm threat to the surrounding
communities, the new Maadi, Zahraa Elmaadi, residen-
tial area, and the ecology of the neighboring Wadi Degla
The present study aims to determine the activity con-
centration of 238 U, 232Th and 40K of twenty six marble
and granite samples wide locally used at Shak El Thou-
ban industrial zone in Egypt, using HPGe detector in a
low background configuration. The results are used to
assess the potential radiological hazards associated with
these materials by computing the radium equivalent ac-
tivity, radiation hazard indices and absorbed dose rate.
The radon mass exhalation rate and the emanation coef-
ficient were also determined and evaluated for all exam-
ined samples.
2. Material and Methods
2.1. Sampling and Sample Preparation
The area of Shak El Thouban industrial zone in Kata-
meyya, Egypt has become a conglomeration of factories
working in the marble and granite industries. Twenty six
different types of marble, granite samples (nineteen sam-
ples of marble coded M1 to M19, seven samples of gran-
ite coded G20 to G26) were collected from different fac-
tories at Shak El Thouban industrial zone (Tables 1 and
2, respectively).
Table 1. Average activity concentrations of 238U, 232Th and 40K for nineteen different marble samples used in Shak El Thou-
ban, Egypt.
Sample Commercial name (Origin) 238U Bq/kg 232Th Bq/kg 40K Bq/kg
M1 Prashia (El-Aish, Egypt) 14.63 9.41 453.89
M2 Zafarana (Zafarana, Egypt) 27.51 9.03 431.34
M3 Serpagenty (El-Arish, Egypt) 21.22 8.33 525.85
M4 Sinai (RasGharbe, Egypt) 30.47 9.42 534.46
M5 Triesta (South Sinai, Egypt) 11.09 5.46 602.64
M6 Galala (Suez, Egypt) 17.97 10.45 532.77
M7 Golden Yellow (Egypt) 15.04 6.88 478.13
M8 Galala Extra (Suez, Egypt) 23.84 7.71 515.05
M9 Golden Beach (Egypt) 15.76 8.54 692.08
M10 Red marble (Turkey) 13.04 8.46 449.70
M11 Emperador (Spain) 79.44 23.61 568.56
M12 PerlatoSvevo (Italy) 10.91 11.13 435.43
M13 Weight marble (Turkey) 18.08 10.08 435.79
M14 Rosa (India) 16.82 11.01 1132.41
M15 Emperador (Lebanon) 18.06 8.87 394.51
M16 Crema (Turkey) 15.78 8.20 463.05
M17 Green marble (India) 19.42 11.51 400.57
M18 Emperador (Syria) 45.40 19.61 382.30
M19 Emperador Brown (China) 37.23 16.63 459.69
Mean 23.77 10.75 520.43
P. L. 50 50 500
P. L.: Permissible level.
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Radiological Hazards for Marble and Granite Used at Shak El Thouban Industrial Zone in Egypt 43
Table 2. Average activity concentrations of 238U, 232Th and 40K for seven different granite samples used in Shak El Thouban,
Sample Commercial name (Origin) 238U Bq/kg 232Th Bq/kg 40K Bq/kg
G20 Ghandola (Aswan, Egypt) 106.34 142.73 9175.02
G21 Red Granite (Aswan, Egypt) 40.45 108.14 11436.91
G22 Red Gharda (Ghardaqah, Egypt) 91.35 270.36 10820.41
G23 Black Aswan (Aswan, Egypt) 12.04 23.91 2017.60
G24 Ghazal Dark (Aswan, Egypt) 38.70 129.13 9734.34
G25 Tan Brown Granite (India) 58.72 82.70 8447.16
G26 Black Granite (India) 32.56 37.99 3441.16
Mean 54.31 113.57 7867.51
P. L. 50 50 500
P. L.: Permissible level.
The samples were crushed, dried and sieved through
200 mesh size. Weighted samples were placed in poly-
ethylene bottles of 250 cm3 volume. The bottles were
completely sealed for more than one month to allow ra-
dioactive equilibrium to be reached between 238U and
232Th and their corresponding daughters to be measured
by gamma spectrometry. This step was necessary to en-
sure that radon gas is confined within the volume and the
daughters will also remain in the sample.
2.2. Experimental Method for Gamma
The detection system consists of an ORTEC hyper pure
germanium (HPGe) detector of sensitive volume of 76.11
cm3, preamplifier, spectroscopy amplifier, high voltage
power supply and the multichannel analyzer. The HPGe
detector has a full width at half maximum of 0.9 keV at
the 122 keV gamma transition of 57Co and 1.85 keV at
1332.5 keV of 60Co gamma transition with photopeak
efficiency 30%. To reduce the gamma-ray background, a
cylindrical lead shield with a fixed bottom and a movable
cover shielded the detector. The lead shield contained
two inner concentric cylinders of copper and cadmium to
prevent interference X-rays by lead. The energy calibra-
tion of the HPGe spectrometer was carried out by using
standard point sources (60Co, 133Ba, 137Cs, 226Ra and
241Am). Absolute efficiency calibration curves are calcu-
lated for activity determination of the sample by using
standard 238U and 232Th with activities of 2120.37 and
1333.96 Bq, respectively and potassium chloride KCl
solutions with activity 15.9 Bq [11], contained in the
same cylindrical bottles with the same volume 250 cm3
and having the same nature as the investigated samples.
The standards and the samples were prepared with a uni-
form geometry. In order to determine the background
distribution in the environment around the detector, an
empty bottle was counted in the same manner and ge-
ometry as the samples. The background spectra were
used to correct the areas of gamma rays for measured
isotopes. The quality assurance of the measurements was
carried out by a daily energy and efficiency calibrations
and repeating each sample measurements. Each sample
was analyzed for a time of 70,000 seconds to obtain the
gamma-ray spectrum with good statistics. The gamma
emitting radionuclide specifically recorded was 238U,
226Ra, 232Th and 40K.
The 238U radionuclide was estimated from the 351.9
keV (36.7%) and 295.2 keV (13.3%) gamma peaks of
214Pb and 609.3 keV (46.1%), 1120.3 keV (15%), and
1764 keV (15.9%) gamma peaks of 214Bi. 232Th radionu-
clide was estimated from the 338.6 keV (11.27%) and
911.1 keV (29%) gamma peaks of 228Ac and 583.1 keV
(84.5%) and 2614.7 keV (9.9%) gamma peaks of 208Tl.
The 226Ra concentration was measured from its gamma-
ray peak at 186.1 keV. 40K radionuclide was estimated
using 1460.8 keV (10.7%) gamma peak from 40K itself
to determine the concentration of 40K in different sam-
3. Results and Discussion
Activity concentrations (in Bq/kg) of naturally occurring
radionuclides isotopes reported in each of the 238U-series
and 232Th-series in the marble and granite used at Shak El
Thouban industrial zone in Egypt have been determined.
The activity concentration values of 226Ra, 214Bi and
214Pb for 238U were found to be 17.99 to 163.58 Bq/kg,
10.54 to 73.13 Bq/kg and 3.96 to 82.31 Bq/kg, respec-
tively. Similarly for 232Th the activity concentration val-
ues of 228Ac were varied from 8.87 to 96.68 Bq/kg and
208Tl were varied from 4.56 to 84.01 Bq/kg.
The average activity concentrations in marble samples
were found to be 23.77 Bq/kg ranged from10.91 to 45.40
Bq/kg for 238U, 10.75 Bq/kg ranged from 5.46 to 23.61
Bq/kg for 232Th and 520.43 Bq/kg ranged from 382.30 to
Open Access JEP
Radiological Hazards for Marble and Granite Used at Shak El Thouban Industrial Zone in Egypt
1132.41 Bq/kg for 40K, as reported in Table 1. The activ-
ity concentrations in granite samples were varied from
12.04 to 106.340 Bq/kg with a mean value 55.31 Bq/kg
for 238U, 23.91 to 270.36 Bq/kg with a mean value
113.57 Bq/kg for 232Th and 2017.60 to 11436.91 Bq/kg
with a mean value 7867.51 Bq/kg for 40K, as reported in
Table 2. It is clear that the activity concentrations of 238U,
232Th and 40K in marble samples are within the permissi-
ble levels 50, 50 and 500 Bq/kg [12], while that in gran-
ite samples are higher than the permissible levels.
Studies were performed between the combinations of
radionuclides like 238U and 226Ra as well as 238U and
232Th activity concentrations. Figure 1 represents the
relation between (238U, 226Ra) as well as (238U, 232Th)
activities for marble and granite samples under investiga-
tion. Strong correlations were observed between (238U
and 226Ra) with (R2 = 0.95, N =19) for marble samples
and with (R2 = 0.995, N = 7) for granite samples which
clear the radioactive equilibrium in uranium series. Simi-
larly, moderate correlation were also observed between
(238U and 232Th) with (R2 = 0.78, N =19) for marble sam-
ples and with (R2 = 0.57, N = 7) for granite samples due
to the high activity concentration of 238U than 232Th.
Assessment of radiological hazards was made by cal-
culating the radium equivalent activities, external and
internal hazard indices. The radium equivalent activity
(Raeq) is a weighted sum of activities of the 226Ra, 232Th
and 40K based on the assumption that 370 Bq/kg of Ra,
259 Bq/kg of Th and 4810 Bq/kg of K produce the same
gamma-ray dose rates as given by the following equation
eq RaThK
RaA143A0 077A
The results obtained for the radium equivalent activity
index Raeq of all samples of marble and granite are varied
from 59.77 to 156.89 Bq/kg and from 201.58 to 1311.14
= 19
= 0.95
0 20 4060 80 100
U (Bq/kg)
Ra (Bq/kg)
Correlation between
U and
Ra formarble
N = 19
= 0.78
0153045 60 75
U (Bq/kg)
Th (Bq/kg)
Correlation between
U and
Thfor marble
N = 7
= 0.995
0 20 40 60 80 100
U (Bq/kg)
Ra (Bq/kg)
Correlation between
U and
Ra for granite
N = 7
= 0.57
03060 90
U (Bq/kg)
Th (Bq/kg)
Correlation between
U and
Th for granite
Figure 1. Correlation between (238U, 226Ra) and (238U, 232Th) concentrations for samples under investigation.
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Radiological Hazards for Marble and Granite Used at Shak El Thouban Industrial Zone in Egypt 45
Bq/kg respectively as listed in Table 3. It is observed
that the values of radium equivalent index of all marble
samples and black granite samples (G23 and G26) are
lower than the recommended value 370 Bq/kg [14] while
the other granite samples are higher than the recom-
mended value.
The other factors indicating radiological hazards are
external (Hex) and internal (Hin) hazard indices which
measure the radiation exposure due to the radioactivity
and defined by the following equations [15,16]:
ex RaThK
int RaThk
HA185 A259 A4810
ARa, ATh, and AK are the activity concentration (in
Bq/kg) of 226Ra, 232Th and 40K, respectively. In order to
keep the radiation hazards to be insignificant, the value
of Hex and Hint must be less than unity [17,18].
The external and internal hazard indices of marble
samples are varied from 0.16 to 0.42 and 0.19 to 0.64
mGy/yr, respectively and that of granite samples are var-
ied from 0.54 to 3.54 and 0.58 to 3.79 mGy/yr, respec-
tively as listed in Table 3. It is noticed that external and
internal hazards indices are lower than unity for all mar-
ble and black granite samples (G23 and G26) while the
other granite samples are higher than unity.
To estimate the level of γ-radiation hazard associated
Table 3. The values of radium equivalent, external and internal hazard indices, radioactivity level index and dose rate for
marble and granite samples under investigation.
Sample Raeq Bq/kg Hex mGy/y Hin mGy/y Iγ Dose rate nGy/h
M1 63.03 0.17 0.21 0.50 31.99
M2 73.64 0.20 0.27 0.56 36.27
M3 73.62 0.20 0.26 0.58 37.18
M4 85.10 0.23 0.31 0.66 42.23
M5 65.30 0.18 0.21 0.53 34.26
M6 73.94 0.20 0.25 0.58 37.50
M7 61.69 0.17 0.21 0.49 31.54
M8 74.52 0.20 0.27 0.58 37.43
M9 81.26 0.22 0.26 0.65 42.14
M10 59.77 0.16 0.20 0.47 30.51
M11 156.98 0.42 0.64 1.05 74.00
M12 60.36 0.16 0.19 0.48 30.75
M13 66.04 0.18 0.23 0.51 33.13
M14 119.76 0.32 0.37 0.98 63.16
M15 61.12 0.17 0.21 0.47 30.55
M16 63.16 0.17 0.21 0.50 32.08
M17 66.72 0.18 0.23 0.51 33.13
M18 102.88 0.28 0.40 0.76 48.81
M19 96.41 0.26 0.36 0.72 46.68
G20 1016.92 2.75 3.03 8.29 534.42
G21 1075.74 2.90 3.01 9.02 580.65
G22 1311.14 3.54 3.79 10.57 683.26
G23 201.58 0.54 0.58 1.67 107.72
G24 972.90 2.63 2.73 8.07 520.59
G25 827.41 2.23 2.39 6.88 443.05
G26 351.85 0.95 1.04 2.90 187.02
P. L. 370 < 1 < 1 < 1 55
. L.: Permissible level.
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Radiological Hazards for Marble and Granite Used at Shak El Thouban Industrial Zone in Egypt
with the natural radionuclides another radiation level
index suggested by OECD’s NEA [19] are evaluated
using the following equation:
γRa Th k
IA150 A100 A1500
ARa, ATh, and AK are the activity concentration (in Bq/
kg) of 226Ra, 232Th and 40K, respectively. The radiation
level index Iγ of marble and granite samples are varied
from 0.47 to 1.05 and from 1.67 to 10.57, respectively
which is found to be less than unity for all marble sam-
ples and higher than unity for all granite samples, as
listed in Table 3.
The absorbed dose rate in air express the received dose
in the open air from the radiation emitted from radionu-
clides activity concentrations in the environmental mate-
rials. This factor is important quantity to assess when
considering radiation risk to a bio system. The absorbed
dose rate, D (nGy/h) in air at 1m above the ground level
owing to the concentration of 238U, 232Th and 40K [15,20]
is given by:
D0 4299A0666A0 042A
ARa, ATh, and AK are the activity concentration (in
Bq/kg) of 226Ra, 232Th and 40K, respectively.
The absorbed dose rate for samples under investigation
varied from 30.51 to 74.00 with mean value 39.65 nGy/h
for marble and from 107.72 to 683.26 with mean value
436.67 nGy/h for granite, as presented in Table 3. It is
clear that its values are lower than the recommended
value 55 nGy/h for all marble samples except marble
sample M11 and all granite samples.
The mass exhalation rate (ERn) and emanation rate co-
efficient of radon (CRn) that can diffuse through the raw
and building materials is also a very important radio-
logical index used to evaluate the amount of the 222Rn
emanation fraction released from the building raw mate-
rials and products containing naturally occurring ra-
dionuclides such as 222Rn in radioactive equilibrium with
its parent. The emanation coefficient of radon (CRn) was
determined [21] according to:
Rn 0
C0 and C are the net count rate of radon at the sealing
time of the samples and after equilibrium (after 30 days),
The mass exhalation rate of radon is the product of the
emanation coefficient of radon (ERa) and production rate
of radon [21]. The mass exhalation rate (ERn in Bq/kg·s)
is determined using the following equation:
RnRnRa Rn
ARa is the specific activity of 226Ra (in Bq/kg) and λRn
is the decay constant of 222Rn (λRn = 2.1 × 106 s1).
The mean value of the emanation coefficient CRn and
the 222Rn mass exhalation rate ERn of the samples under
investigation are listed in Table 4. It is clear that the
values of the emanation coefficient and the 222Rn exhale-
tion rate for all samples under investigation were ranged
Table 4. The specific activity of 226Ra, activity of 238U before and after sealing time, the emanation coefficient and the radon
mass exhalation rate for marble and granite samples under investigation.
Sample Specific activity
of 226Ra (Bq/kg)
238U-series (Bq/kg)
before C0
(Bq/kg) after C
Emanation coefficient
of Radon CRn
Mass exhalation rate
for 222Rn (µBq/kg·s)
M1 25.00 18.50 14.63 0.44 23.18
M2 44.80 35.50 27.51 0.44 41.08
M3 35.08 33.50 21.22 0.39 28.57
M4 26.70 42.51 30.47 0.42 23.41
M5 17.60 16.49 11.09 0.40 14.86
M6 29.98 22.12 17.97 0.45 28.22
M7 24.73 19.52 15.04 0.44 22.60
M8 36.82 33.79 23.84 0.41 31.98
M9 25.22 19.52 15.76 0.45 23.66
M10 22.26 18.69 13.05 0.41 19.22
M11 120.03 66.58 79.44 0.54 137.13
M12 17.99 15.21 10.91 0.42 15.78
M13 33.91 23.51 18.08 0.43 30.95
M14 28.53 20.81 16.82 0.45 26.78
M15 29.03 23.31 18.06 0.44 26.61
M16 23.11 19.52 15.78 0.45 21.70
M17 33.79 24.41 19.41 0.44 31.44
M18 66.01 52.45 45.39 0.46 64.31
M19 57.73 45.01 37.23 0.45 54.89
G20 163.58 128.93 106.34 0.45 155.26
G21 56.90 54.38 40.45 0.43 50.97
G22 135.34 101.70 91.35 0.47 134.49
G23 19.33 17.61 12.04 0.41 16.49
G24 63.95 53.73 38.69 0.42 56.22
G25 92.95 62.23 58.72 0.49 94.76
G26 51.06 48.71 32.56 0.40 42.96
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Radiological Hazards for Marble and Granite Used at Shak El Thouban Industrial Zone in Egypt 47
from 0.39 to 0.54 and 14.86 to 155.26 μBq/(kg·s), re-
spectively. The mass exhalation rate of 222Rn in marble
and granite were varied from 14.86 to 137.13 and 16.48
to 155.26 µBq/kg·s, respectively.
Figure 2 shows a strong correlation between the spe-
cific activity of 226Ra and 222Rn mass exhalation rate with
(R2 = 0.986, N = 26) for marble and granite samples,
which means that 222Rn and 226Ra accompanied each
other and that the individual result for any one of the
radionuclide concentration is a good predictor of the
concentration of the other.
4. Conclusions
Environmental monitoring should be carried out for mar-
bles and granites used at Shak El Thouban industrial
zone in Katameyya, Egypt where people might be ex-
posed to radioactivity. The levels of natural radioactivity
in marble and granite samples were determined using
high resolution gamma-ray spectrometry. The results can
be useful in the assessment of the radiological hazard
associated with the exposures and the radiation doses due
to naturally radioactive element contents in marble and
granite samples. We noticed that there is a strong corre-
lation between radium-226 and uranium-238 in marbel
and granite samples which means that the two elements
accompanied each other. Also, there is a strong correlation
between the specific activity of radium and radon mass
exhalation rate, so the knowledge of uranium concentra-
tions gives a good estimate of the radon concentrations in
the samples and its escape to the atmosphere.
The present study showed that the measured marble
samples were within the recommended safety limits and
did not pose any significant source of radiation hazard
inhabitants. It is also clear that, the high activity concen-
tration, radioactive level and mass exhalation rate of the
radon within most granite samples pose a radiation haz-
ard to the workers and users of the this product and cause
a great effect on the humans health, especially those
working in closed spaces since the emanated radon may
R2 = 0.986
N = 26
0 20 40 60 80100 120 140 160180
Specific activity of 226Ra (Bq/kg)
Mass exhalation rate for 222Rn
Figure 2. Mass exhalation rate for 222Rn verses specific ac-
tivity of 226Ra for all samples under investigation.
be accumulated by time. Therefore, safety rules and pre-
cautions should be necessary for workers and users of
granite types, especially in closed spaces.
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