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Published on Sep 19, 2013
Vermiculite is a type of mineral that has been a commercial commodity throughout the world for well over 50 years. When heated to a high temperature, flakes of vermiculite expand as much as 8-30 times their original size. The expanded vermiculite is a light-weight, fire-resistant, and odorless material and has been used in numerous products, including insulation for attics and walls.
A mine near Libby, Montana, was the source of over 70 percent of all vermiculite sold in the United States from 1919 to 1990. Unfortunately, there was also a deposit of asbestos at that mine, so the vermiculite from Libby was contaminated with asbestos. Vermiculite from the mine near Libby was used in the majority of vermiculite insulation in the United States.
If you have vermiculite insulation in your home, asbestos testing services are available and you should assume this material may be contaminated with asbestos.
Asbestos fibers must be airborne to cause a health risk through inhalation, so the first step is not to disturb the material, which would release more fibers into the air. If you remove or disturb the insulation, it is probable that you may inhale some asbestos fibers - the degree of health risk depends on how much and how often this occurred.
Exposure to asbestos increases your risk of developing lung diseases including asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. Disease may not occur until decades after exposure. The risk of disease increases as the level, duration, and frequency of exposure increases. There is no known safe level of asbestos exposure.
These are just a few things to know about vermiculite insulation that may contain asbestos, to learn more about this or other indoor air quality, health and safety, occupational or environmental issues, please visit the websites shown on the screen.