What Is Vermiculite Insulation?September 23, 2015
What is vermiculite insulation and why is it dangerous?
That’s the question some insulation installation contractors may get asked. We at Capitol Machine will walk you through the insulation morass and present some healthy and happy solutions.
Vermiculite, a naturally occurring mineral of shiny flakes, is related to asbestos, which has been used to insulate most homes built before 1990, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry.
Most of the world’s supply of vermiculite had historically come from a Libby, Montana mine that also had a natural deposit of asbestos. The vermiculite from the mine was contaminated by the asbestos.
Asbestos Exposure Can Lead to Serious Disease
Asbestos can cause lung and other health problems if inhaled. Thin, lightweight asbestos fibers are released into the air when asbestos products are disturbed, the federal agency states. The fibers which get embedded in lung tissues can cause asbestosis, lung cancer or mesothelioma.
Sold under the brand name Zonolite, the vermiculite was used in insulation for attics and was sold in gardening and hardware stores. It was also used as a soil conditioner, fertilizer and in potting soil mixes.
When heated, vermiculite flakes can expand 8-30 times their original size. Trained technicians use microscopes to examine vermiculite for asbestos. Due to the difficulty in spotting asbestos in vermiculite, the federal agency advises home and business owners to assume structural insulation is contaminated.
Authorities urge home and business owners against disturbing insulation, which may lead to exposure to asbestos. Symptoms from exposure may take several years to manifest. The potential for asbestos-contaminated vermiculite in Canadian homes is especially high.
Removing insulation is the best way to resolve the prospects of exposure. Hire a certified contractor to remove and replace attic and wall insulation. If you’re not remodeling or disturbing the insulation (and walls and ceilings are well sealed), you’re probably safe from exposure, experts suggest. However, the best and most healthy safeguard is removal of the vermiculite and replacement with blown-in insulation.
Powerful Capitol Machines Do the Job Right
Did you find this analysis helpful? We at Capitol Machine offer a wide variety of insulation machines, insulation blowers and insulation removal vacuums. Contact us with questions or for more information.