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Fireplace Vermiculite


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If it's a gas fireplace with a glass door, and it gets its combustion air from the outside, I wouldn't be concerned about it. However, if the firebox gets its combustion air from the interior and is open to the interior through the floor of the box, so that fiber can get into the house, just tell them to take a spoonful down to the local testing lab, get it tested for less than $50. If it turns out to be asbestos, get rid of it. If not, don't worry about it.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Originally posted by hausdok

take a spoonful down to the local testing lab, get it tested for less than $50.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

When I sent a half-baggie of the stuff to a lab, taken from the attic in the house my daughter rents for college, the lab said they needed four time the amount to do a *proper* test. Bad lab?

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I'm rather surprised to find out that inspectors (that I respect) are actually taking samples of vermiculite to be tested for asbestos fibers. I don't recommend anyone even consider having it tested. Read the public info brochures on this topic and you'll find that analyzing vermiculite for asbestos is inaccurate and negative lab results should be interpreted as inconclusive.

Are those that grab a sample and send it to lab:

  • employed or subcontracted by the lab and covered by their insurance?

    (I don't know of a reputable lab that would even accept unqualified samples)

  • taking samples from 3 different locations and keeping the samples separate?
  • taking samples from the bottom, not the top of the filled cavity?
  • informing their clients that a negative lab result does not mean the samples sent do not contain asbestos fibers?
  • informing their clients that a negative result certainly doesn't mean that the vermiculite in their attic does not contain asbestos fibers?
In my opinion, testing vermiculite for asbestos has the same value as mold tests from home inspectors
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Clarification.

I never take samples of anything from any property I'm inspecting professionally; I let all my environmental licenses go years ago, and I refer environmentals to licensed entities.

I've taken a few samples of various materials for friends & neighbors; that's when I've taken 4 tbsp. of whatever to send in. I suppose I've got some inherent liability because I touched something, but @ some point I've gotta be normal.

As far as vermiculite, what should one do? If the test is so inconclusive, what's the best recommendation?

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Originally posted by kurt

As far as vermiculite, what should one do? If the test is so inconclusive, what's the best recommendation?

Since 80% of all vermiculite (before 1990) came from the contaminated Montana mines , It's best to treat it the same as known asbestos containing materials.

From the EPA's publication "Asbestos and Vermiculite:

  • Vermiculite insulation should be left undisturbed in your attic. Due to the uncertainties with existing testing techniques, it is best to assume that the material may contain asbestos.
  • You should not store boxes or other items in your attic if retrieving the material will disturb the insulation.
  • Children should not be allowed to play in an attic with open areas of vermiculite insulation.
  • If you plan to remodel or conduct renovations that would disturb the vermiculite, hire professionals trained and certified to handle asbestos to safely remove the material.
  • You should never attempt to remove the insulation yourself. Hire professionals trained and certified to safely remove the material.
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This is timely.

I did a job last week (not a pre-purchase, but a forensic investigation gig), to determine why folks in the house are always coughing & have raspy throats.

Discover a new space-pak high velocity AC in the attic. The attic is also full of old vermiculite under the floorboards; everything is hacked up for the ducts, and the vermiculite is the definition of "disturbed".

Also discover the new air filter system that has the central filter cartridge and door cover left off, so most of the "return air" is being pulled from the attic. Basically, the house has it's own dust/asbestos/grit distribution system running full blast 24/7.

Folks are a little testy right now; looks like a HVAC contractor might be getting themselves shaved.

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