Vermiculite Attic Insulation – Asbestos?

Vermiculite insulation is a material commonly found in attics in Racine, Kenosha, and the greater Milwaukee area. Unfortunately, vermiculite insulation can contain Asbestos. Anyone that is properly trained to work with vermiculite knows that there is no approved method to detect asbestos in vermiculite, so don’t waste your money on expensive lab tests.

According to the EPA:

“Currently, there are specific technical issues involving vermiculite sampling that can complicate testing for the presence of asbestos fibers and interpreting the risk from exposure. EPA and ATSDR are not recommending at this time that homeowners have vermiculite attic insulation tested for asbestos. As testing techniques are refined, EPA and ATSDR will provide information to the public on the benefits of testing that produce more definitive and accurate test results.”

As a result, it is best to assume that all vermiculite contains asbestos.

Vermiculite is most commonly found in attics, but was also used in walls.  It is often hidden under layers of other types of insulation.  Because it flows very easily, if there are holes from the attic into walls it can easily find its way from the attic to the crawl space, basement or even the living space.

While most documented cases of injury due to asbestos in vermiculite seems to involve workers, families of workers and people in close proximity to the mines,  it is prudent to be careful and let only experienced professionals handle vermiculite.  Its also the law. Read how serious the Wisconsin DHS considers anyone attempting to handle asbestos and vermiculite without the proper training.

If you find vermiculite in your home—-leave it alone—do not disturb it.  If you have recently hired an insulation contractor in Racine or Kenosha to work in your attic, they may now be responsible for having your entire home air sampled by a certified Wisconsin DHS Asbestos Inspector.  If the air sampling shows evidence of asbestos they are liable for the costs of abatement procedures and any health issues caused by exposure to you and your family.

Contractors should not remove or disturb any amount of vermiculite insulation unless they are certified to do so.  The Wisconsin Department of Health Services states the following:

If your work includes disturbing, replacing or removing vermiculite insulation, you are required to work for a certified asbestos company and to use only workers certified in asbestos abatement, or to hire the services of a certified asbestos company to remove these materials for you.

When handled correctly by a properly trained contractor, vermiculite insulation poses no threat to the insulation workers and home owners.  Surprisingly, a lot of vermiculite ore was shipped to Racine, Kenosha and Milwaukee.  It was then processed into the finished product, vermiculite insulation, and then sold and installed in homes throughout Racine and Kenosha.

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