With the unpredictable and frigid weather this winter, you
may begin to question or re-evaluate your current attic or wall insulation. If
you are looking to re-insulate your home or business it is important to
understand what type, and brand, of insulation you have. While cellulose
insulation is common in new construction homes, it is not uncommon for attics
and walls to be insulated with vermiculite insulation that may be
What is Vermiculite
Vermiculite is a naturally-occurring mineral composed of
shiny flakes, resembling mica. When heated to a high temperature, flakes
of vermiculite expand as much as 8-30 times their original size. The
expanded vermiculite is light-weight, fire-resistant, and odorless material and
has been used in numerous products, including insulation for attics and walls.
Sizes of vermiculite products range from very fine particles to large
(coarse) pieces nearly an inch long.
Concerns about Asbestos-contaminated Vermiculite Insulation
A mine near Libby, Montana, was the source of over 70
percent of all vermiculite sold in the United States from 1919 to 1990.
There was also a deposit of asbestos at that mine, so the vermiculite
from Libby was contaminated with asbestos. Vermiculite form Libby was used in
the majority of vermiculite insulation in the United States and was often sold
under the brand name Zonolite. If you have vermiculite insulation in your
facility/home, you should assume this material may be contaminated with asbestos
and aware of steps you can take to protect yourself and your family from
exposure to asbestos.
Identifying Insulation That is Made From Vermiculite
Look at the photos on this website and then look at the
insulation without disturbing it. Vermiculite insulation is a
pebble-like, pour-in product and is usually gray-brown or silver-gold in color.
The following photographs show typical vermiculite
You should assume that vermiculite insulation is from Libby
and treat the material as if it contained asbestos by not disturbing it or by
using a trained professional if it needs to be removed. Since the Libby
mine was estimated to be the source of over 70 percent of all vermiculite in
the United States from 1919 to 1990 and vermiculite from Libby was contaminated
with asbestos, further testing is not necessary to take the appropriate
precautions. While you can hire a trained professional to test your attic
and walls for asbestos, this may be expensive and, depending on the method
used, might give you erroneous results.
Risk of Exposure to Asbestos If You Have Vermiculite
Asbestos causes cancer and other diseases. There is no
known safe level of asbestos exposure. Asbestos fibers must be airborne
to cause a health risk through inhalation, so the first step is not to disturb
the material, which would release more fibers into the air. If you remove
or disturb the insulation, it is probable that you may inhale some asbestos
fibers - the degree of health risk depends on how much and how often this
occurred. I you do not go into your facility's/home's walls and attic,
handle, or disturb the insulation, it is likely that you will not be exposed to
asbestos fibers from vermiculite insulation.
Also, you need to consider if any disturbance of the
insulation - possibly by a contractor doing the work in your facility/home -
may result in the fibers being deposited into other areas of your facility/home
where an exposure might be possible.
Concerns About Exposure If Your Family Removed of Handled
Insulation That Contained Asbestos
It is not possible to say whether your exposure may result
in disease. Exposure to asbestos increases your risk of developing lung
diseases including asbestosis, lung cancer, or mesothelioma, and disease may
not occur until decades of exposure. The risk of disease increases as the
level, duration, and frequency of exposure increases. That risk is made
worse by smoking. If you are concerned about possible exposure, talk to
your doctor and consider consulting a physician who specializes in lung
diseases, also known as a pulmonologist.
To learn more about our vermiculite removal services
and how your company can benefit from them, contact