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Good to Know: Vermiculite

27 January 2010

Vermiculite insulation between attic joists (EPA)

If you’re thinking about doing any attic air sealing or insulation, especially if you live in an older house, it’s good to know a thing or two about vermiculite.  Vermiculite is a naturally-occurring mineral that can be expanded when heated to a light-weight, fire-resistant and odorless material commonly used for insulation for attics and walls.  Sounds great, right?  Well, unfortunately, most vermiculite used in our country comes from one mine in Montana – a mine that was contaminated with asbestos.  So, when it comes to YOUR vermiculite, it’s best to assume that it has also been contaminated and contains asbestos.  For those of you who don’t know, asbestos is a mineral fiber that causes cancer and other diseases if inhaled.  Yikes.

So, what to do?  If you have vermiculite in your attic, don’t mess with it yourself. If you need to do attic air sealing that would require moving the vermiculite you’ll need to find an asbestos abatement professional to remove it before you can do work.  Check with your contractor if you need additional insulation, which you might be able to install without disturbing the existing vermiculite.

Be safe!  The Environmental Protection Agency has tons more information about asbestos if you have questions.

:: EPA: Vermiculite

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