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Josh Lowe's Dr. Energy Saver Blog

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Your Attic's Vermiculite Insulation May Contain Asbestos

Your Attic's Vermiculite Insulation May Contain Asbestos

Most of us know vermiculite as an ingredient in potting soil; it helps to retain moisture.

It is reasonable to assume that your attic’s vermiculite contains asbestos. According to the US Geological Survey, an estimate one million homes in the United States still have insulation made out of vermiculite. Some sources of vermiculite were contaminated with a form of asbestos called tremolite, such as products from Montana and Canada. It wasn’t added, it was just a contaminant in the vermiculite mine.

When our sales folks encounter vermiculite during their thorough attic inspection, we can’t just remove it and then do our insulation work. If you have vermiculite insulation in your home, for safety you should assume it may have asbestos. Do not disturb it as that can release asbestos fibers into the air. Do not store anything in your attic or allow anyone to disturb or work in the area.

A sample is taken and sent in to a special laboratory for testing. If the vermiculite has even trace amounts of asbestos (less than 1%), for the safety of the people in the house and of our crews, we cannot remove it.

We inform the homeowner of the results of the test. The good news is that this is an issue that can be safely resolved!

The owner will need to work with a certified asbestos abatement company for safe removal. The Oregon DEQ posts their list of licensed abatement contractors at

https://www.oregon.gov/deq/FilterDocs/asb-contr.pdf

If the test comes back negative—showing no asbestos in the vermiculite—our insulation crew can remove it and install the proper treatments to fix your home and make it more comfortable to live in.

If the test comes back positive, you have options:

Option 1: You can leave the vermiculite in place and do not disturb it.

Option 2: In 2014, a trust was established to help educate the public about potential health effect associated with asbestos-containing vermiculite as well to help offset the cost of removal. Find out if you qualify at www.zaitrust.com

The EPA’s website concerning vermiculite with asbestos is at:

www.epa.gov/asbestos/protect-your-family-asbestos-contaminated-vermiculite-insulation

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