VERMICULITE INSULATION IN YOUR HOME
What is Vermiculite?

    Vermiculite is a naturally occurring mineral that was mined and made into insulation starting in the
    1920's.  Vermiculite is quite harmless by itself and this type of insulation was installed in attics and walls in
    hundreds of thousands of homes in Canada.

    The cause for the recent concern is related to certain brands of vermiculite insulation that are
    contaminated with potentially dangerous Asbestos fibres (commonly called Tremolite).

    It is the Asbestos contamination of the vermiculite insulation that should concern homeowners or
    homebuyers considering the purchase of a home containing vermiculite insulation.  
What Does Vermiculite Insulation Look Like?

    There are many different types of vermiculite insulation and the appearances can be quite different. The
    photograph shows typical samples of vermiculite insulation removed from the attics of two different
    homes.

    The sample on the left was tested by an accredited laboratory and found to contain no detectable
    asbestos. The sample on the right was tested by the same laboratory and the presence of asbestos
    (actinolite / tremolite) was confirmed.

    The asbestos is present as microscopic needle shaped particles in the vermiculite that can easily become an
    airborne dust if the insulation is disturbed.

    It is impossible to determine if vermiculite insulation contains asbestos by its visual appearance alone.

    A representative sample must be analysed by an accredited laboratory that is experienced in this type of
    analysis.
Vermiculite Insulation
This sample did not contain any detectable
asbestos
Vermiculite Insulation
This sample contains significant amounts of
asbestos

How Do I Check for Vermiculite Insulation?

    In many cases, the vermiculite insulation is not obvious when you look in the attic of your home. As
    energy prices went up, homeowners added successive layers of insulation and the vermiculite can be
    buried under a different type of insulation. For this reason, it is necessary to dig down through all the
    layers of insulation until you reach the top surface of the ceiling.

    If you find a material resembling either of the photographs, you should proceed with extreme caution.

    It is recommended that anyone checking attic insulation wear disposable coveralls, gloves and a respirator
    for protection from the dust and other noxious materials that may be present in an attic.

    If you would rather have a trained inspector check your home, please call. Our fee to perform this service
    is very affordable.

What Can I Do If My Home Contains Vermiculite Insulation?

    The answer to this question is very dependent on you and your attitude to health and environmental
    hazards.

    The first logical step is to take a proper sample of the insulation and have it analysed by a reliable,
    accredited laboratory.

    If the laboratory reports that the vermiculite does not contain any detectable asbestos then there is no
    need to do anything further and you can live in the home with no concerns about your health.

    If the laboratory finds dangerous levels of asbestos in the vermiculite insulation, you still have two
    options.

    The first option is to leave the vermiculite insulation in place. If you decide that you are comfortable with
    this option, you should take precautions to protect your health. Additional information on the
    recommended precautions is contained at the following web sites.

    Health Canada                www.hc-sc.gc.ca/iyh-vsv/prod/insulation-isolant_e.html
    CMHC                             www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/co/maho/yohoyohe/inaiqu/inaiqu_001.cfm

    The second option is to remove the vermiculite insulation and re-insulate the attic with new material. This
    is a costly option, but it does provide assurance that your home is safe and your health is protected. If
    you choose this option, I can provide a list of reliable contractors that are qualified to do this type of
    work.
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Compass Property Inspections Inc.