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Vermeculite insulation in the attic


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Hi, I am in the process of buying a house and the inspector said there is vermeculite in the attic. I know that most vermeculite was taken from the mines in Montana which were contaminated with asbestos. The vermeculite in this house was covered with insulation. I have read that as long as its left alone it "shouldn't" be a problem. My question is: is the house still safe to live in? I worry because asbestos does not affect you in the short term, it takes 30-40 years to cause cancer if inhaled.

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We recently covered this with a different potential home owner. If you do a quick search for the word vermiculite, you should be able to find the topic.

In short, it is fine when covered with a different type of insulation. Just limit the activity in the attic as to not stir it up, and always keep in mind, that the vermiculite is there should you decide to open the ceiling below the attic.

Also, I have had a client test their vermiculite and it did not contain asbestos.

http://www.epa.gov/asbestos/vermiculite.html

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Thanks for that Bill. And I should have worded the above a bit differently. I didn't have my client test it, I actually never recommend testing, I just tell them it is contaminated and to treat it like it is.

A previous client was going to do some work and they had it tested and then called to tell me the results.

BTW, can I link to that page for my reports?

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Oh sure.

I interviewed a couple folks in the asbestos testing and laboratory standards biz before putting that together. Here's what I was told about testing vermiculite:

There's no correlation between the actual asbestos content in vermiculite and the levels detected by accredited laboratories.

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Amen to BK advice.. I have gone thru that exercise and the bottom line is that the local 'expert' lab here says.. "we can sample the pants out of the area and material in question.. but we still will not say 'there is no asbestos.. even if we find 'none'.."

That has lead to total removal in these cases... and replacement with new insulation..

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Hi, I am in the process of buying a house and the inspector said there is vermeculite in the attic. I know that most vermeculite was taken from the mines in Montana which were contaminated with asbestos. The vermeculite in this house was covered with insulation. I have read that as long as its left alone it "shouldn't" be a problem. My question is: is the house still safe to live in? I worry because asbestos does not affect you in the short term, it takes 30-40 years to cause cancer if inhaled.

It depends on how well the ceiling plane is sealed from the rest of the house.

* Are there gaps where the vermiculite can sift through the ceiling and fall into the living space?

* Are there return-air heating ducts up there with openings that can suck vermiculite into the air stream?

* Do you use the attic for storage space, go up there twice a year, and stir the stuff up?

* Are you planning to replace light fixtures or remodel to the extent that ceilings might be opened or altered?

* Etc

If the vermiculite is just sitting there and not disturbed, then the risk of exposure is small.

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