Is this asbestos?

Rock-like, shiny, hard material?

1421 Kent 056-400.jpg

do you have a closer Picture
If in doubt write it as suspected CYA

That looks like vermiculite…‘search’ for that here on the board and also see this and this.

You need to be a Certified Asbestos inspector to do so, see the guidelines for AHERA. Unless tested all materials are ACM’s. If you comment on it and are wrong the home owner would clean your slate in court, easily. EPA, Clean Air Act…

There are various forms of Vermiculite as we know it and this one is one of them.

On May 21, 2003, the Environmental Protection Agency issued its report: “A Pilot Study to Estimate Asbestos Exposure form Vermiculite Attic Insulation” (66 pages). At the same time, EPA issued a brochure entitled: “Current Best Practices for Vermiculite Attic Insulation” (2 pages).
Hopefully before panicking, becoming too concerned, or hiring professional consultants, homeowners will read the full EPA report, consider the source, and put the report and warnings into perspective—and then relax!
To be sure, if one reads the full study, there seems to be no scientific basis for the kind of conclusions and recommendations included in EPA’s two-page consumer brochure. And similar to the previous USEPA study (2000) on Garden Products Containing Vermiculite, the current study has a number of technical errors, and is fraught with scientific limitations, organizational bias, and simple mistakes.
What also is interesting is comparing this study and the EPA’s response to asbestos contamination in Manhattan after the World Trade Center disaster. In the vermiculite EPA study, the agency resorted to its previous tendency to promote “zero-tolerance” towards asbestos; and yet, after the World Trade Center disaster the EPA took an entirely different approach.
“Faced with a public health scare that could have sent thousands in Manhattan fleeing the city or jamming hospitals, the EPA decided to cough up the truth about asbestos. Its officials bent over backward to get out the message that asbestos was harmful only if breathed at high levels and over sustained periods of time. When reporters pointed out that some of the tests had exceeded the EPA’s safety levels, the agency hurried to explain that this was a “stringent standard based on long-term exposure” and repeated that the public was not at any real risk. (Quoted from article written by Kimberly A. Strassel writing for the Wall Street Journal, October 19, 2001 see The EPA Comes Clean on Asbestos by Kimberley A. Strassel (Wall Street Journal)](”
**The EPA’s Report on Attic Insulation and Vermiculite: **
Knowing their first report had been severely criticized within the scientific community, EPA and its subcontractor, Versar, Inc, tried to make a few disclaimers on the very first page of the report:

  1. “There are uncertainties associated with the exposure estimates based on the data from this study and the frequencies and durations used in this assessment.” (Translation: The EPA does not know, or cannot calculate how often and for what periods of time a person would need to be exposed to vermiculite to be at risk for anything.)
  2. “There are no survey data indicating the number of times residents install wiring or disturb insulation in their attics.” (Translation: The EPA knows most people spend virtually no time in their attics, and few people spend much time doing home repairs or home wiring in their attics. And risk assessments become totally meaningless, if not impossible, if there is virtually no time period of exposure to virtually no detectable fibers.)
  3. “Cancer risks are not estimated in this report because there is great uncertainty associated with primarily basing cancer risk estimates on a limited sampling of vermiculite products that contain only trace amounts of asbestos in the simulations.” (Translation: The EPA contractor is not able to or willing to make any kind of risk assessments based on the data found in the report.)

Some More Background Information:

There are many vermiculite mines in the world, and current operating mines being used today have no asbestos contamination. Historically the two largest mines had been the Palabora, South Africa mine and the Libby, Montana mine. Like all the other vermiculite mines being used today, Palabora has never had an asbestos problem. Unfortunately, the Libby, Montana mine had been used since the late 1920’s, it was second only to the Palabora mine in size, and it was unique among vermiculite mines in that the vermiculite developed next to and commingled with diopside that eventually turned into a harmful form of asbestos.
The Libby, Montana mine was closed in 1990, but vermiculite from this mine has been used to insulate many homes and buildings throughout the years of its operation. (Vermiculite had been a very prominent and popular form of home insulation until the invention and marketing of fiberglass and rock wool.)
To date, the only people who have had health problems from this particular Libby, Montana vermiculite have been:

  • mine workers and people living next to the mine and the vermiculite mining operation in Libby, and
  • a very small number of processing plant workers who worked with the crude ore every day for years and years.

Among people who were exposed to or worked with only the expanded, processed vermiculite, we don’t know of any one who has become sick or developed asbestosis or mesothelioma from exposure to Libby, Montana vermiculite. This may be because if any fibers are found in the expanded Libby material, the levels of asbestos are very, very low. And most people simply are not exposed to expanded vermiculite enough to ever develop problems at these levels.
To put EPA’s results into perspective, it should be noted that asbestos has been in and around homes for years. It was used in virtually all home-heating appliances like toasters, ovens, stoves, irons, hair driers, and floor heaters. Electrical cords and plugs for these appliances often had “bundles” of pure asbestos fibers in and around them. Asbestos also was used in floor tiles, cement siding, roofing shingles, refractory cements, and many furnaces. And it was used in automobile brakes and clutches. To be sure, it is not the mere presence of asbestos that is potentially dangerous----what can and is dangerous is if people are exposed to very high levels of respirable asbestos fibers over a long period of time.
For instance, according to current OSHA standards, a worker working 8 hours/day, five days a week, for 52 weeks a year can be exposed constantly to 0.1 f/cc (fibers/cubic centimeter) because OSHA considers this level to be acceptable and because there is no scientific data available that demonstrates a health risk at this level.
If a worker has to do work in which there will be greater exposure, then there is an “excursion limit.” The excursion limits mean a worker can work for up to 30 minute to up to 1.0 f/cc and still be working in conditions that OSHA considers safe.
There are many materials in and around our homes that can become unsafe if we are exposed to too much. People living in the northeast have radon gas in many basements. As long as families don’t live in basements, close all their doors and windows and never leave their basements, most homes are considered safe, and remediation is only necessary when there are excessive amounts of radon gas present. In fact, the same could be said for attics where very little time is usually spent!
“The presence of a small proportion of tremolite-actinolite in a building material, even if it is present as the asbestos variety, does not necessarily mean that the material is hazardous. If that were the criterion for definition of a hazardous material, we would have to say that sand, concrete and cement are all extremely hazardous because they contain high concentrations of crystalline silica. We don’t don dust masks, for example, when we walk on a sandy beach or enter a building with concrete walls, and children are still allowed to play in sand boxes without any concern that any one of them will contract silicosis as a result of these activities.” (Letter to the Editor, Progressive Builder Inc, October 9, 1987 from Dr. Eric Chatfield.)
Because of its usage in so many products throughout many years, asbestos fibers are present in almost all older homes—and yet, how many people have died as a result? Needless to say, we feel the most recent EPA study on Attic Insulation should be read in its entirely by homeowners and reporters, and then put into perspective:):smiley:

The only way to know is to have it tested. However testing vermiculite insulation is not 100% accurate. The insulation was shipped in bags. Contaminated (asbestos) is caused by veins in the mine. Therefore some bags might have it, some wont. If you test from a single location in the attic, it could be negative, but just a few feet away there is contamination. EPA says to assume it has asbestos, and leave it alone. (So does the free on-line Vermiculite course offered on this site… hint, hint:mrgreen:).

Agreed Mark.:):D;)

this website will help too!

Yes it does James, It brings back old memories. :slight_smile: I used to pour hundreds of those bags in exterior Masonry CMU walls on School Buildings many moons ago.
Wonder I am not dead. :mrgreen:

A little more on asbestos containing products and materials.

It does look like vermiculite and most of this insulation (in my area) is asbestos-free.

I always have my clients test the vermiculite at a local lab that we have here. Then I contact them after the testing is complete and 90% of them have come back as no ACM’s.

Always have it tested…

David, that’s not what the EPA says…

This stuff came in bags. Some bags had asbestos some didn’t. When you have your clients test it, do they take samples from every part of the attic? If not, then a negative test result only tells them that there is no asbestos in that sample. Other parts of the very same attic may be contaminated.

Yes, they take several samples and all samples have come back with no ACM’s. I haven’t had a client yet that had vermiculite with positive results.

Check out this find I had a few years ago…

Write it up as needs further evaluation.
You can send a sample to Prolab for testing if needed.

There are two ways to approach a suspect asbestos containing material: assume it is asbestos or have it tested by a qualified, certified lab to confirm or deny presence of asbestos. There are protocols for the number of samples that need to be taken of a particular type of suspect asbestos containing material. Generally, one sample is not enough to make a definitive statement.

A good rule of thumb would be to call it out as a suspect asbestos containing material, but, recommend that a certified asbestos building inspector perform an asbestos inspection. Always cover yourself!!

Hope this helps.