Is there any way for sure to tell if this is vermiculite? How would you report it?


Need much better detail in quality of pics… very close up.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with vermiculite.

Now whether the vermiculite contains asbestos is a whole 'nuther story.

Lab testing is the only way to tell for sure, but is almost useless due to each individual section would need to be tested, and even then not 100% conclusive for the presence of asbestos.

A close up picture would make it easier to tell but it appears there is a very good possibility that’s what it is. According to the EPA there is a 70% chance that there is asbestos in it. Of course testing is the only way to tell. I would mention it’s possibly vermiculite and there is a possibility of it containing asbestos.

The original material on the ceiling has a good chance of being vermiculite (by its colour and consistancy when magnified). Recommend testing for asbestos by a professional.

The mounded material at the gable end wall appears to be cellulose fiber insulation that blew up from open top wall cavities as they were being retrofitted from the exterior.

Not completely true!
Only one brand “Zonolite”, mined in Libby Montana, is know to contain traces of asbestsos fibers.

If left alone and undisturbed it is not a huge health hazard.


I agree with you Douglas. One other thing not mentioned is where to get the sample. I had an HI do the sample from the top and you know what that means. HI is up deep **** crick and he is not even Certified to test.
Is that staining from fire damage or treated?

Hard to tell from the photos, did it look like my picture?

I recommend people have it tested and let them know that leaving it alone is usually the best option. I also like to make sure they are aware that if they ever do any renovations or have storm damage, then it can become an issue. I have seen buildings damaged by storms where insurance companies cover repairs, but not the cost of asbestos cleanup. Asbestos was a big issue after the Aug. tornado here in Goderich.

It does look like there might have been a fire in that attic too.

Here’s what I put in my report:

The United States’ EPA recommends the following if you have vermiculite insulation in your home:

  • 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.

To learn more about vermiculite insulation, visit the website below.

All straight from the EPA.

Look at photo #2, flash photography sure shows how much material is floating around in attic spaces. If there is asbestos there, it sure looks friable.

My point? Put on a P100 half face respirator before opening any attic hatch. I suppose an N95 disposable type is OK but when doing home inspections on a regular basis I don’t want to risk my health. Asbestos or not, coughing up a lung is not the best way to complete an inspection.

Looks more like Perlite to me…

Something just don’t look right.
The piles in the second picture appear to be a different product altogether.

This is a picture of Vermiculite.

Perlite insulation

Aesbestos in Vermiculite

The mentioned article implies that asbestos is a “toxic” substance.

Toxins are defined as poisonous substances such as snake venoms, hydogen sulfide, cyanide, etc.

(TOXIN- noun- a poison of plant or animal origin, especially one produced by or derived from microorganisms and acting as an antigen in the body)

A single exposure to high levels of asbestos will not immediately make you sick and probably will not kill you in the long run but a single short exposure to certain levels of H2S or cyanide will.

Continued regular exposure to high concentrations of asbestos over years and years certainly increases your chances of illnesses such as asbestosis or mesothelioma but may not necessarily make you sick. Similarly, smoking one pack of cigarettes over one day early in life does not guarantee lung cancer.

Thanks for all the info guys! I’ll report it and recommend they get it checked. Looking at my higher res photo I think it is vermiculite.