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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
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    9

    Unhappy Vermiculite Insulation, too late, already disturbed...Concerns???

    Our 1894 home was inspected in February of this year prior to our closing on 3/26. We have since started on some small “projects” right away, prior to moving into our “new” old home.

    Upon pulling some data cables (Cat5e) from the basement up to the attic for data/T.V. access for the 2nd floor of our house, I discovered what I think is vermiculite insulation underneath the newer, blown in fiber insulation (obviously the vermiculite wasn’t visible during the home inspection). At the time, I did not know that it was vermiculite (never heard of vermiculite and didn’t know anything about vermiculite) and proceeded with my project. I did have a protective dust mask on and gloves and was not concerned at the time as I really did not consider it a health risk.

    After day two in the attic, I became more curious, due to the age of our house (built in 1894), and I went and did some research on the Internet. Turns out, I found information stating that vermiculite insulation can contain asbestos because 70% of vermiculite insulation nationwide was produced from an asbestos contaminated mine in Libby, Montana from 1920’s –1990’s. Our house was built in 1894, so it’s hard to say when the vermiculite was actually put up in the attic, as that is the very bottom layer, then there is rolls of older fiber glass, then the newer, blown in type of insulation on the top the previous home owners had put in. The brand of contaminated vermiculite was “Zonolite.” I assume it would be impossible to determine what brand of insulation we have unless I find a bag of it somewhere near by.

    I am not sure what I should do at this point, since I’ve already been exposed and dug through some of this type of insulation to get to the wall plates to drill holes for the Cat5e. The whole attic hasn’t been disturbed, but I would say a good 7-8 square feet section of it in the middle. Also, I have read that dust masks do not prevent asbestos inhalation, which also concerns me, since I was not using a respirator, only a dust mask. I am also concerned that if it is asbestos laced vermiculite, that I have now contaminated the whole house (along with myself and my wife) and will be faced with a hefty abatement removal bill.

    Maybe I am being just a new, paranoid, home owner. What is your recommendation? Should I have this insulation from the disturbed area tested for asbestos? If the previous home owners knew of this, were they supposed to disclose this information to us? Do we now have to disclose it when/if we sell in the future? Should we have it removed? Should I put it back and just leave it? Do we disclose that there is vermiculite to an electrician that goes into our attic? I guess I’m not sure what to do at this point, and I’m not 100% sure its even vermiculite.
    Thanks for any insight, at this point I have become very paranoid and full of anxieties.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Tennessee
    Posts
    1,381

    Default Re: Vermiculite Insulation, too late, already disturbed...Concerns???

    You will need to consult with a lawyer about your legal responsibilities and recourse, but I can tell that you will not have any piece of mind unless you get it tested. Even if it does not contain asbestos, until you know that for sure, you wont get a good nights sleep in this house and that will have a detrimental affect on your health, even if the vermiculite doesn't.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    6,481

    Default Re: Vermiculite Insulation, too late, already disturbed...Concerns???

    Have a sample of the vermiculite tested, once you know for certain its composition you can determine what steps you want to take.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
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    9

    Default Re: Vermiculite Insulation, too late, already disturbed...Concerns???

    Thanks, I plan on sending a sample to "Pro-Labs" for asbestos testing to see if the area I disturbed may have asbestos contamination. I only hope that Pro-Labs understands the testing procedures needed to identify the Libby asbestos product. I am no longer going into the Attic without coveralls, gloves or a HEPA respirator, now that I know that this stuff is potentially dangerous. Anybody have any experience with Pro-Labs, or what else would you recommend?
    I can only hope the Vermiculite insulation in my attic was installed prior to 1923 or after 1990 and that it wasn't Zonolite from Libby, Montana, otherwise, Vermiculite is 100% safe. I guess I have a 30% chance that it is Vermiculite from a different mine, but being from the Midwest (Wisconsin) I can only assume they shipped Vermiculite from MT to WI.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    1,096

    Default Re: Vermiculite Insulation, too late, already disturbed...Concerns???

    The danger of asbestos is over-rated for most who are seldom exposed to it, but it's still worth taking reasonable precautions for. The main health issues were with people who worked with it more regularly. I wouldn't worry but I'd go ahead with the checking. I'd also consult a real estate lawyer to see if you have means of redress from the seller should it prove to be asbestos-rich vermiculite. If it is the bad stuff and you do not have it all removed, you must disclose that on sale of the house, along with all other known sub-standard conditions or someone will be seeking redress from you later on!

    Sadly, many people have been burned when selling houses they knew little about after the buyer discovered sub-standard conditions. Many times it is inherited property and nobody knew, but the law doesn't make much allowance for that. You can't be too careful these days!

    Phil

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
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    9

    Default Re: Vermiculite Insulation, too late, already disturbed...Concerns???

    Thanks for the feedback guys.
    I just got the test results from the lab back and the two samples I sent in both contain <1%, or a trace amount, of asbestos, but of the worst possible kind, Tremolite. Although <1% is considered a non-ACM, I feel somewhat concerned that there is any asbestos in it at all, since vermiculite is dusty and the asbestos fibers become more concentrated when air born in the dust. Even though it is <1%, I feel like I still need to disclose it if we ever sell our house. I would like to contact a lawyer to see what my options are. I would just like it removed. Hard to say if I will have any long term health effects. I can only pray to God I won't. My two main concerns are my health, since I was primarly exposed to it with only a standard dusk mask, my families health, and the resale value of my home.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Tennessee
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    Default Re: Vermiculite Insulation, too late, already disturbed...Concerns???

    Check those lab reports again. 1% is 1000ppm. 1000ppm is NOT insignificant and is a very high hazard. Now if the lab report is <1 ppm, then it can be described as "trace" amounts.

    Sometimes a lab will use a term like <1 ppm to indicate that the amount of a contaminate is less than their detectable limit. In other words, they could not detect the contaminant at his time due to technology limitations, but they cannot say with absolute certainty that it is completely absent.

    The lab report should indicate their lowest detectable limit with the test they were using.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Tennessee
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    Default Re: Vermiculite Insulation, too late, already disturbed...Concerns???

    Let me add a little more to this. You need to find out if the lab used the best test. Sometimes there are more than one test. One test may be a simple test, like a field test that is limited on its detection level and another test may have a lower detection limit, but has to be done in a lab.

    For example, you can buy a field test for lead in paint. It is cheap, about $10, but it takes a fairly high concentration of lead in the paint to trigger a positive, and it can sometimes trigger a false positive.

    There is a lead scanner that uses xray technology that is more accurate, has a lower detection level and is portable, but it can cost hundreds of $$$ to have someone come on site to perform the test.

    The most accurate test involves sending paint samples to a lab. It costs hundreds of $$$ also, takes about two weeks to get the results, but it is accurate down to 0.1 ppm. a lab test is required for children's toys as the legal limit is 0.6 ppm.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    9

    Default Re: Vermiculite Insulation, too late, already disturbed...Concerns???

    The lab report I received listed Tremolite asbestos in the Vermiculite and was less than 1 percent (<1%). It did not indicate a specific ppm content. But what from you say, if 1% is 1000ppm, then my results must be less than 1000ppm. In other words, there was a trace amount, which is more than "none-detected." So now I feel it's my responsibility to have it removed ($$$$) or just disclose it to the next buyer, which then I may never be able to sell our house. Maybe the previous homeowners are still liable? I'll wait and see what a lawyer says.
    Last edited by BrianH1237; 04-08-2012 at 12:08 PM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    9

    Default Re: Vermiculite Insulation, too late, already disturbed...Concerns???

    Also, I did have the two samples sent to an accredited lab. The test they used was the PLM light method to identify the asbestos fibers.

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