Vermiculite Removal: Older Vermiculite Often Contains Asbestos

Vermiculite Removal in Older Homes

As experts in vermiculite removal and asbestos removal, we encounter vermiculite in homes every day. It’s important to know that older vermiculite often contains asbestos and can be very harmful to your health.

Vermiculite is a mica-like mineral mined around the world and used in a variety of commercial and consumer products because it is fire-resistant and has good insulation qualities. But homeowners should aware of the possible risks when it comes to Vermiculite.

The world’s main supplier of vermiculite-based insulation was the Libby Mine in Montana, which produced vermiculite ore from the 1920s to 1990. Vermiculite insulation was sold in Canada, under the name Zonolite and possibly other names, during that period.

The problem is that the Libby mine contained amphibole asbestos.

Products made from Libby Mine vermiculite ore weren’t widely used after the 1990s and not all vermiculite produced before 1990 contains amphibole asbestos fibres; but to be safe, it’s reasonable to assume that if your home has older vermiculite-based insulation, it likely contains asbestos.

Asbestos poses health risks when its fibres become airborne and easily inhaled. If asbestos fibres are enclosed or tightly bound in a product, for example in asbestos siding or floor tiles, there are no significant health risks.

The level of risk will depend on the concentration of asbestos fibres in the air, how long you were exposed, how often you were exposed and the size of the asbestos fibres inhaled.

When inhaled in significant quantities, asbestos fibres can cause asbestosis (a scarring of the lungs which makes breathing difficult), mesothelioma, a rare cancer of the lining of the chest or abdominal cavity, and lung cancer.

Asbestos-related illnesses are usually associated with frequent and prolonged exposure to asbestos. It can take decades to develop a disease from exposure to asbestos.

While the overall percentage of amphibole asbestos in bulk vermiculite is very low, the airborne percentages can increase if the material is disturbed. To minimize your risk of amphibole asbestos exposure, avoid disturbing vermiculite-based insulation. As long as it is contained and not exposed to the home or interior environment, it poses very little risk.

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If you know you have vermiculite-based insulation in your attic, take these precautions:

  • Don’t let children play in an attic with open areas of vermiculite based insulation and make sure anyone working in the attic knows about the possible presence of asbestos.
  • Don’t use the attic for storage if retrieving items from it may disturb the insulation.
  • If you must go into the attic, walk on boards to minimize insulation disturbance and use an appropriate respirator mask – common dust masks are not effective against asbestos fibres. Don’t stay in the attic any longer than necessary.
  • If you have vermiculite based insulation and you would like to have it removed, we have trained and qualified asbestos and vermiculite removal professionals to handle the insulation removal.
  • Never try to remove the insulation yourself.
  • Seal all cracks and holes in the ceilings of the rooms below the insulation (for example, apply caulking around light fixtures and the attic hatch) to prevent insulation sifting through.

If you’re concerned about exposure to asbestos:

  • Talk to your health-care provider
  • Avoid or minimize further exposure to any form of asbestos
  • Give the team at Hazpro Environmental a call

If you are concerned that your home may contain vermiculite-based insulation, contact the team at Hazpro Environmental. We’ll have one of our qualified team members explain the vermiculite removal process to you step-by-step.


Hazpro Environment, asbestos removal service you can count on in Victoria and Nanaimo BC.