Vermiculite or Zonolite style insulation was present and MAY Contain Asbestos. Its suggested that it be tested and analyzed by an Industrial Hygienist to confirm the presence of asbestos using a transmission electron microscopy. It’s suggested that the material not be disturbed until further assessment.
Not all vermiculite insulation contains asbestos, but prior to 1990, much of the worlds supply of vermiculite came from a mine near Libby, Montana. This mine had a natural deposit of asbestos, which resulted in the vermiculite being contaminated with asbestos. Attic insulation produced using vermiculite ore, particularly ore that originated from the Libby mine, may contain asbestos fibers. The EPA, ASTDR and InterNACHI recommend that I assume that all vermiculite insulation contains asbestos, and so should you. The EPA, ATSDR, IAC2 and InterNACHI strongly recommend that homeowners make every effort not to disturb vermiculite insulation in their attics.
Recommendations on Vermiculite
Leave vermiculite insulation undisturbed in your attic or in your walls.
-Do not store boxes or other items in your attic if it contains vermiculite insulation.
-Do not allow children to play in an attic with vermiculite insulation.
-Do not attempt to remove the insulation yourself.
-Hire a professional asbestos contractor if you plan to remodel or conduct renovations that would disturb the vermiculite in your attic or walls to make sure the material is safely handled and/or removed.
If you occasionally have to go into your attic, current best practices state that:
You should make every effort to stay on the floored part of your attic and do not disturb the insulation.
If you must perform activities that may disturb the attic insulation, such as moving boxes or other materials, do so as gently as possible to minimize the disturbance.
Leave the attic immediately after the disturbance.
If you need work done in your attic, such as the installation of cable or utility lines, hire trained and certified professionals who can do the work safely.
It is possible that vermiculite attic insulation can sift through cracks in the ceiling, around light fixtures, and around ceiling fans. You can prevent this by sealing the cracks and holes that insulation could pass through.
Wearing a common dust mask is not an effective measure against exposure to asbestos fibers.
For more information regarding Vermiculite Insulation please visit http://www.carsondunlop.com/resources/articles/vermiculite-insulation
Shaun Brear - CPI