Protect Your Family From Asbestos Contaminated Vermiculite Insulation
This page is a summary of the informative EPA article on the subject. To read the full article, click the link at the bottom.
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 a light-weight, fire-resistant, and odorless material and has been used in numerous products, including insulation for attics and walls.
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 from Libby was used in the majority of vermiculite insulation in the United States and was often sold under the brand name Zonolite.
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 insulation.
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.
Risk of Exposure to Asbestos If You Have Vermiculite Insulation
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.
Concerns About Exposure If Your Family Removed or 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 after exposure. The risk of disease increases as the level, duration, and frequency of exposure increases. That risk is made worse by smoking.
If You Have Vermiculite Insulation
YOU SHOULD ASSUME THE VERMICULITE CONTAINS ASBESTOS AND DO NOT DISTURB IT! Any disturbance could potentially release asbestos fibers into the air.
We recommend that you:
- Leave vermiculite insulation undisturbed in your attic or in your walls.
- Hire a professional asbestos contractor if you plan to remodel or conduct renovations that would disturb the vermiculite in your attic or walls to make sure the material is safely handled and/or removed.
Read the full article here.