What is Vermiculite?

It's no secret that vermiculite was typically used as an insulation material. Insulation materials act as barriers to heat, moisture, sound, and electricity. As a result, vermiculite insulation was the standard in homes built before the 90s. In the United States, 85% of all vermiculite insulation was produced in Libby, Montana, and marketed as Zonolite.

Vermiculite is a brownish, odorless, lightweight, and pH-neutral mineral. It can be used in gardening as it helps soil retain water and nutrients, and doesn't undergo any measurable physical change in high temperatures. Medium, coarse, and extra-coarse grades often work best. You can get good results by improvising with perlite.

When dealing with vermiculite, it’s important to be careful because it can expose you to Asbestos; a fibrous (and dangerous) mineral. There are many similarities between vermiculite and Asbestos: Both can withstand heat and flame, as well as chemicals and corrosion, and function well as insulators. As a result, vermiculite, in its purest form, poses no health risks. However, exposure to Asbestos-contaminated vermiculite can lead to a variety of diseases.

How can vermiculite expose you to Asbestos? 

Though Asbestos is not present in all vermiculite, it has been found in some finished products. Asbestos can enter the body through the lungs and the stomach. The greatest danger comes from inhaling Asbestos fibers. Asbestos exposure has two factors, the concentration of Asbestos in the air and the duration of exposure to that air. On the bright side, Asbestos poses no threat unless it becomes airborne and there is minimal risk and exposure if it is not being tampered with.

Why is Asbestos in vermiculite bad?

Lung, laryngeal, and for women, ovarian cancer are just three of the many possible dangers you face once you are exposed to the Asbestos found in nearly all vermiculite. The material can quickly become airborne during cleaning, maintenance, or rebuilding. 

Where is vermiculite usually found? 

The Libby vermiculite mine has been part of the United States longest-running environmental disaster. For more than 50 years, it was mined there until 1990, when the mine closed down. Most of the time, the insulation, sold under the brand name Zonolite, was found in the attics of homes.

What should you do if your home contains vermiculite-based insulation or other products?

We advise leaving Asbestos-containing vermiculite in its natural position if it is in a part of your home that is infrequently visited. If it is safely nestled behind finished walls and floors or in a non-living space like an attic, it is better to leave it where it is. You can minimize the risk of Asbestos if you do not disrupt the vermiculite. Tiny, needle-like Asbestos fibers can become airborne if vermiculite is broken up. Breathing Asbestos fibers in the air can lead to lung scarring and other health problems. Therefore, it's essential to engage a professional if you need any of it removed from your property. 

When Should You Hire A Vermiculite Removal Expert?

Remember that you should keep vermiculite out of the attic or behind a wall. It can be a problem when renovations or other work that could open up walls or the ceiling are being done. Asbestos fibers can be breathed in when they are stirred up and released. When these fibers get stuck in your lungs, it can pose major (and even fatal) health threats. 

Suppose your home may have vermiculite insulation, and you want to do some remodeling. In that case, you should have a professional check the vermiculite for Asbestos before you start your project. If Asbestos is found, it can be taken away.

Vermiculite can be challenging to get rid of. It should be taken care of by companies that have been trained and have experience in removing Asbestos. They can use strict industry standards and procedures to stop contamination from spreading. Sealing off can prevent cross-contamination, protecting the affected areas of the property and the homeowners.

With RidAway, we aim to protect you and your home against vermiculite's dangers. And as a customer, you can always call us or visit us at ridaway.com for more information and advice.