If you’re under the perception that natural insulation materials are the safest ones to utilize, it may be time to reconsider. Vermiculite is an all-natural insulation product– however it’s one that you most definitely do not intend to have in your attic.
Vermiculite is a mineral extracted from the planet, composed of glossy flakes that look like mica. When this mineral is placed in an oven, it increases like snacks. Expanded vermiculite is light-weight, fireproof, and odorless; given that it has an R-value of about R-2 each inch, it was used for decades as an insulation material.
There is only one problem with this terrific product: a lot of vermiculite includes friable asbestos. When inhaled, vermiculite dust could cause cancer.
Proprietors of homes with vermiculite have a significant frustration.
If your attic room includes vermiculite:
- It’s dangerous to enter your attic.
- It’s dangerous to do a blower door examination.
- It threatens to do any type of attic room air sealing work till all the vermiculite has actually been removed by a certified asbestos abatement service provider, at an expense ranging from $7,000 to $12,000.
- It’s dangerous to install cellulose insulation on top of the vermiculite.
That’s why it’s so much far better to have an attic with no insulation whatsoever than it is to have an attic with 8 inches of vermiculite.
If an attic is insulated with a thin layer of vermiculite– a level that provides less than the minimal R-value needed by code– it’s difficult to come up with a great way to boost the insulation layer, especially if the ceiling has air leaks. Attending to attics with vermiculite is a certain challenge for weatherization firms.
Where does it come from?
Vermiculite insulation was offered in the U.S. from 1919 to 1990. More than 70 % of UNITED STATE vermiculite originated from a solitary mine near Libby, Montana. Vermiculite insulation was marketed in bags to home builders and homeowners under the Zonolite trademark name. Founded in 1919, the Zonolite business was gotten by W.R. Grace Firm in 1963.
Using a 1985 quote made by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), concerning 940,000 American homes were shielded with Zonolite.
Zonolite was rarely set up after the mid-1980s. Closed in 1990, the Libby mine ended up being an EPA Superfund site in 2002.
Vermiculite from the Libby mine had asbestos fibers (variously called amphibole, tremolite, or actinolite asbestos). Although not every bag of Zonolite consisted of asbestos, a great deal of them did– enough that vermiculite-insulated attic rooms in the united state need to be presumed to include asbestos.
Health and wellness dangers
Taking a breath vermiculite dirt is most definitely harmful. Vermiculite dust usually has asbestos fibers, and also inhaling asbestos fibers can trigger asbestosis, lung cancer cells, or mesothelioma. The latency duration for asbestos-related cancers cells is 15 to 45 years.
Encapsulated vermiculite (for instance, vermiculite installed in stud dental caries) is not specifically unsafe, as long as no one opens up the wall surface or engages in demolition. Troubling vermiculite insulation on an attic room flooring is absolutely unsafe.
Using the EPA, “Exposure to asbestos boosts your risk of developing lung conditions … The danger of disease boosts as the level, period, and also regularity of exposure rises. That danger is made worse by smoking. If you are concerned concerning possible exposure, talk to your doctor.”.
What does vermiculite look like?
Have you poked your head right into your attic room as well as checked out the insulation, wondering if it is vermiculite? The trick to the identification process is considering your insulation without touching it. Whatever you do, do not interrupt it or relocate about– and also don’t spend anymore time in the attic room than essential.
Vermiculite is a pour-in-place insulation comprised of little bits (not fibers). The particles differ in dimension from rice-sized grains to bits that are nearly an inch long.
The fragments are typically (yet not constantly) shiny, as well as sometimes appear like very small stones. The color of vermiculite insulation ranges from gray-brown to silver-gold.
Should I test right stuff in my attic room?
In the past, some government companies recommended that vermiculite insulation need to be examined for asbestos. However, in today times all respectable resources recommend that house owners should think that all vermiculite insulation has asbestos, which house owners as well as home builders should not throw away any type of money on testing.
Using the EPA, “Considering that the Libby mine was estimated to be the source of over 70 percent of all vermiculite marketed in the United States from 1919 to 1990 and vermiculite from Libby was contaminated with asbestos, additional testing is not essential to take the suitable precautions. … While you could work with an experienced professional to check your attic for asbestos, this could be costly and also, relying on the methods utilized, might give you incorrect results.”.
According to the Vermont Division of Health and wellness, “As a result of the unpredictabilities with alreadying existing screening strategies, it is very well to assume that the material might have asbestos.”.
Examining vermiculite for asbestos is no more advised due to the fact that:
Generally made use of testing treatments are unstable, and also.
A vermiculite example collected near an attic room gain access to hatch might not be depictive of vermiculite installed elsewhere in the attic. Even if the bag of Zonolite mounted near the attic room hatch was asbestos-free, other bags of Zonolite utilized to insulate the remainder of the attic room could have consisted of dangerous levels of asbestos.
Marc Friend, a civil developer helping Vermont’s Healthy and balanced Houses Program, sums up present recommendations: “Don’t bother to pay money to test for asbestos. Presume that the vermiculite consists of asbestos.”.
Guidance to proprietors of homes with vermiculite in the attic.
If your residence has vermiculite in the attic:
- Don’t touch or disrupt the insulation in your attic.Do not use your attic for storage.
- If in any way possible, don’t enter your attic room.
- Do not enable kids to play in the attic.
- Don’t open your walls to see if there is vermiculite inside.
- Don’t try to get rid of the vermiculite on your own. If you intend to have the vermiculite removed, work with a qualified asbestos abatement professional for the work.
- Do not let untrained contractors– for instance, electrical contractors or cord installers– right into your attic room, given that contractors may trigger a brand-new threat where none already existed.
Set up a sign near your attic accessibility hatch reading, “Cancer Danger:
Insulation includes asbestos. Do not interrupt or produce dust.”.
Keep in mind, common dirt masks are ineffective versus asbestos fibers.
It’s most likely a great idea to seal any type of fractures in your ceiling (for instance, splits around ceiling-mounted electrical boxes) to decrease the opportunity that vermiculite dust will certainly enter your home.
This work ought to only be executed from below– never from the attic.