Hello everyone

My question is there is vermiculite in the attic and I was wondering where I could send it to get it tested for asbestos. I live in Kingston Ontario.

Great website



They are in toronto and can send you an analysis.

The company is PRO-LAB and has a good reputation.


Hi Mark:

Is this your own attic?

If not, I would be careful about taking ‘samples’. First, from what part of the attic do you take the samples? If you only take one sample, that will tell you only that the vermiculite in that particular area contains or does not contain asbestos.

In the seventies, I owned a building supplies. This was the time of government grants for energy efficiency, so insulation purchases were heavily subsidized. As a result, we sold truckloads of all kinds of insulation, including vermiculite.

We bought vermiculite from four different suppliers, but when we stored it in the warehouse, it was all kept together. In other words, if a customer ordered fifty bags, he might get material from four different sources, and some of that could have contained asbestos. (The present-day concerns did not exist back then)

So, if you take only one sample, you might miss the area that actually contains asbestos. I have sent four samples from one house to the lab and two came back positive and two negative.

I guess all I’m saying is that you can’t get a true reading from the samples, so if you are doing this for a client, you could be exposing yourself to future problems.

Bill Mullen

I agree completely with Bill. Better that you inform your client of the possibilities, give them some literature on the product ( available fromt the CMHC web site where they basically say " don’t roll around in it and just leave it alone") inform them of the fact that they can get testing done and leave it at that. I have heard of a situation where there were three different tests made in three different areas of the same attic with three different findings. ( surprised this didn’t happen to me!)

Thanks for the replies gentlemen.

So the best solution is to try and not disturb it that much. I want to do some electrical work ( pot lights ).


Remember pot lights should Boxed in so they do not loose heat to the attic . This can be a simple as drywall and latex caulking to stop heat and moisture getting into the attic. Roy Cooke

Good point Roy. Keeps the vermiculite from dropping into the inside of the house too.


If I was to box the potlight with some scrap plywood would that become a fire issue ?



There are air tight pot light fixtures certified for insulated attics (IC approved) that don’t need a box built around or over them. Just bought a couple of Halo brand at Home depot. Another brand is Juno.

These have a heat sensor switch at the top or side of the dome that shuts the power supply down when the temps hit a certain value…somewhere around 200-250 deg F or 100-130 C.

Mark, as for the vermiculite, Pinchin Environmental does analysis on vermiculite samples. We have had good results from them. Personally, having inspected a number of homes with this product, it bothered me that the homeowners were sick in several cases. Might be a coincidence but it is asbestos. From a resale point of view, I would want to be able to produce a document that says it was tested. In future years, I think this will become the new UFFI debacle.

With respect to the pot lights, if they are not approved for direct contact with insulation, you can purchase a proper metal enclosure for them to isolate them from the insulation. I am not sure I am really keen on plywood or drywall as suitable enclosures, in fact I think the Ontario Electrical Code might take issue with that. The comments about sealing them up are logical but these devices do need to ventilate as the halogen bulbs can generate very large amounts of heat.

Good luck

There is a very good chance that if the test you got comes back negative. (no asbestos), the next test a few years later could result in positive findings. I have decided a couple years ago to not take any samples for clients. I give them literature and the names and addresses of firms like Pimchin, but I keep my involvement to a minimum.

If, as you say, this will be the next UFFI, it could come back to bite any of us who have been taking vermiculite samples for people.

Bill Mullen

These lights do not need to ventilate:

  1. They are tested and certified for use with specific bulbs and wattages only. That is what the high temp limiting in line switch is for- to prevent too high temps from occurring

  2. Uncontrolled air leakage is the usually one of the larger heat losses from homes. If we want to save $$$ on heating costs control this loss.

  3. If the house air has a fair amount of moisture in it due high interior RH"s, you are adding moisture to the attic 24/7 during the winter. This would be worse than a bathroom fan venting into the attic for an hour or so daily.

exactly Brian
I find many attic hatches are not gasketed and insulated , this too can cost a lot on money and add considerably to moisture in attic . A thirty ~ dollar fix save a lot.
Roy Cooke

The light I bought is an approved shower light. Unfortunately not approved for insulated ceilings. I have seen boxes made out of drywall maybe because of scrap lying around during construction or because of the fire rating.

Typically how much vermiculite would be in an attic 5-6inches. There appears to be only an inch or 2 with pink insulation on top of it.



Mark if your looking for some info give me a call 613 561 5327, I am in Kingston as well.

Any samples of this type sent to Pro Lab are actually sent to Florida. So be prepared to mail it to the Florida location.


As many have stated,you could get it tested. It may or may not come back positive for asbestos.
Really does it matter?

Treat it as if it does have asbestos. Do not entertain your guests in the attic!
Most old government buildings or schools have asbestos on certain things installed in them from the seventies and even in early eighties. If this stuff was going to kill everyone, they would have removed it all a long time ago… (hang on, someone will come up with a conspiracy theory here)

What you want to remember is…
If you (or anyone else) have to work in the attic, protect yourself accordingly. BUT DO NOT PANIC OVER HAVING IT IN THE HOUSE!
As a bricklayer in Alberta in the late seventies and early eighties I poured about a billion bags of this stuff into walls. (I am mostly alright)

OF the billion bags how many wher Zonlite??

Don’t forget it takes about 20-30 years for the affects of asbestos to manifest it in the body. In Ontario asbestos related injuries are at the top of the list for workers injuries. Doug

In Alberta it was all zonolite brand.