Attic inspections with asbestos

I am curious if opening an attic hatch to gain access to look into the attic would disturb the vermiculite (with asbestos) inside? If we know beforehand that there is vermiculite/asbestos in the attic, should we still be inspecting the attic?

It may or may not disturb it. Personally I would do it, very carefully opening the cover and inspect from the hatch opening only.

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Not all vermiculite insulation has asbestos, It has to be tested to confirm that it does. Proceed with caution and wear your PPE.

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Morning, Marc.
Hope this post finds you well and in good spirits today.

Marc/Members/Inspectors/Visitors/Guests/HomeOneres. Enter any attic or crawlspace wearing PPE. At the very least, Full Facepiece with n95%. I use a Honeywell North 7600 Series Niosh-Approved Full Facepiece Silicone Respirator.
*Asbestos fibers are not the only airborne particulate that may/can cause health concerns.

Wear coveralls when required. That means every full entry into attics and crawl spaces.

1: I prepare a clean 8’x8’ tarp on the floor beside the hatch or entryway to put on and take off my PPE.
2: I have separate clean bags/baggies to place soiled or dirty coveralls and a seperate clean bag/baggie for my mask.
3: I place everything into a carry bag when finished.
4: Then I clean up the flooring afterwards and place any debris I collected from the floor in the toilet.

Realtors and homeowners appreciate the professional effort.

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Marc I have only been inspecting for about a year now and encountered one attic with visible vermiculite. I pretty much open every attic access very carefully to minimize cleanup after the attic inspection. After sticking my head up in the attic and determining the at the insulation might contain asbestos I came back down the ladder. Problem was that while I stuck my head inside the attic I noticed water stains in an area close to the hatch. So I put on my respirator and went into the attic to see if the water stains were recent.

That night while at home I couldn’t stop thinking of the potential risk I put myself into by sticking my head into the attic. I couldn’t sleep. I kept replaying the events over and over in my head. Was I careful opening the hatch? Did I see dust floating around? Did the bat I saw hanging above the attic access have lung cancer:-) Why did I go back into the attic even with a respirator? I spent the better part of the night not sleeping and researching asbestos on the internet trying to reassure myself that I was safe. Not fun!

Now I don’t open an attic access on any home without wearing an appropriate respirator. I have also told myself that if I ever run into vermiculite in an attic again I will not enter. To me it is not worth the risk.

Something to consider also is even if you see brand new insulation in an attic of an older home you don’t know what is underneath it. So wear a respirator.
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The amount of free asbestos fibers that you will churn into the air by opening the access is so small that your health risk is near none. The EPA says that occasional incidental exposure to small amounts is not a health risk. The ordinary dust that you stir up will be more irritating and the reason to wear a decent dust mask.

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Thank you for a voice of reason!! I have been working with and around asbestos for 35 years - only 20 as a home inspector. At my last physical I asked for a chest x-ray to specifically look for asbestos poisoning. Results were negative. Poking our heads into an attic for a few minutes has ZERO adverse effects. If you are that fragile I suggest you find a different line of work!

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