|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
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
This sample did not contain any detectable
This sample contains significant amounts of
How Do I Check for Vermiculite Insulation?
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.
is very affordable.
What Can I Do If My Home Contains Vermiculite Insulation?
need to do anything further and you can live in the home with no concerns about your health.
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
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
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