Vermiculite Q & A

Vermiculite Q & A

What is vermiculite?

Vermiculite is a volcanic materials compound that expands when it's heated and has the weird property of increasing into worm-like or accordion-like pieces. They are normally the scale of a nickel or dime. Vermiculite has been utilized in numerous industries for more than eighty years. It's used in the construction, agricultural, horticultural and industrial markets.

Where are vermiculite reserves?

Vermiculite is found throughout the world. International locations that hold business vermiculite loose fill mines include Australia, Brazil, Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe and the United States. The vermiculite commercially available today comes from deposits that aren't considered harmful.

What model of vermiculite is harmful?

More than 70 per cent of the vermiculite ore mined on the earth got here from the Libby mine, which has been closed since 1990. This explicit mine was unusual because the realm additionally included a natural deposit of tremolite asbestos. Consequently, much of the vermiculite from the Libby mine was contaminated with tremolite asbestos. Based on consultants, it is a very toxic form of asbestos, 10 instances as carcinogenic as the more prevalent chrysotile asbestos. That vermiculite was sold under the model name Zonolite Attic Insulation.

How is W.R. Grace Co. involved in this problem?

W.R. Grace bought the vermiculite mine in Libby in 1963 from the Zonolite Company. More than 1.5 billion kilos of uncooked contaminated ore was despatched to processing plants throughout Canada. From a third to a half of the vermiculite from this mine was sold as attic insulation from the Forties until 1984, when its sale by the corporate was discontinued.

Was Zonolite extensively used?

According to paperwork from the U.S. Environmental Safety Agency (EPA), between 15 and 35 million U.S. houses and businesses have been insulated with Zonolite. Paperwork show about one tenth of the production from Libby was shipped to Canada. It was even on the checklist of eligible materials for the federal government's Canadian Residence Insulation Program (CHIP), a program that offered grants to homeowners from 1977 to the mid-1980s.

What if I have Zonolite insulation?

Avoid it. If it's left untouched in the attic, there must be minimal or no danger at all. The asbestos fibres have to be airborne to be inhaled. Every time you breathe asbestos fibres into your lungs, you increase the possibility of developing health problems.

The fibres can change into trapped in the lungs and can cause lung cancer and mesothelioma, a cancer of the lungs' lining. The danger is linked to exposure. It turns into dangerous is when you could have activities that deliver you up in the attic, like storing boxes, anything that disturb the fabric will cause airborne fibres almost immediately.

In keeping with the U.S. EPA, there are cases of individuals who acquired asbestosis from four or five significant contacts with the insulation material. Tradesman face a higher risk.

What if I'm renovating?

In case you are doing work in the attic your self, reminiscent of remodeling, plumbing or rewiring, you must treat Zonolite as asbestos-containing material. You need to put on a proper respirator and change your clothes. It's important to make sure that the fibres will not spread it to other areas of your home. It's endorsed to hire a contractor who is correctly equipped to work with asbestos.

What ought to I do if I think I have Zonolite in my attic?

Don't let children play within the area. Don't sweep the Zonolite or use a normal vacuum cleaner. This will re-circulate the harmful fibres, which may linger in the air for days. There are vacuum cleaners available on the market that come with highly sensitive HEPA filters that may seize the fibres.

My house insulation appears to be like like vermiculite. How do I do know it s Zonolite from Libby?

It is not possible to tell just by looking at it. Usually, empty Zonolite kraft paper bags were left within the attic. If the bags show that ore was processed by WR Grace Canada, Grant Industries or F. Hyde and Co, the product is probably from Libby and is probably going contaminated. If you understand you may have vermiculite insulation in your attic or partitions and also you're involved about it, it probably is sensible to test the fabric to see if it incorporates asbestos.

Can I test the material myself?

If you wish to have a pattern analyzed, it's recommended that you simply hire a trained advisor or contractor to collect the sample and get it analyzed at a laboratory. There are quite a few consulting firms that carry out this sort of asbestos analysis work.

In line with Bruce Stewart from Pinchin Environmental in Mississauga, there needs to be several samples taken since asbestos concentration may differ from one vermiculite piece to another. Also, specialized consultants needs to be looking for traces of asbestos, even under 0.1 per cent on a weight-to-weight basis. Usually a concentration of less than 0.1 per cent is considered safe. However vermiculite is extremely friable and can launch a very high number of asbestos fibres within the air when disturbed even if the focus of asbestos is considered very low.

If there is asbestos in the insulation, should I've it removed?

Before taking that step, householders should consider a number of factors. First, eradicating asbestos-containing materials is typically very expensive. If a big quantity of material is concerned, it's going to probably prices 1000's of dollars.

Secondly, due to the bodily characteristics of vermiculite, there is a low potential the material is getting into the air. If the insulation isn't exposed to the home setting (for instance, it is sealed behind wallboards and floorboards or is isolated within the attic which is vented outside) the very best advice could be to depart it alone.
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