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.