Few things about this trade scare me like this stuff. Did any of you watch the two part series about vermiculite a couple nights ago on Nightline? The company lied for years about the extreme hazards of this product, all while making millions on it and the white house covered it up. Grrrr!!!!!! They are now saying that just one inhaled breath of this stuff can initiate a horrible death sentence down the road. PLEASE everyone, watch out for this stuff! They also said we are only seeing the very beginning of many, many cancer cases/lawsuits to come. It was placed in MILLIONS of homes!! Please read the following --- EPA Issues Vermiculite Insulation Warning WASHINGTON, D.C.—May 27, 2003—After receiving negative press attention for its failure to warn homeowners of the dangers of asbestos–containing vermiculite insulation, the federal government has finally launched a consumer awareness campaign about the material. The new program comes over a year after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) halted the release of a similar campaign at the urging of the White House. (See White House Squelched Alert on Asbestos Insulation.)
As a first step, the EPA and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) are distributing a pamphlet to the media and hardware stores. It explains how to identify and manage vermiculite, a mineral ore resembling mica that is used in insulation and potting soil. The majority of vermiculite is derived from a mine in Libby, Montana that contains asbestos. By some estimates, up to 35 million homes in the United States may be insulated with asbestos–contaminated Zonolite, which is the brand name for most vermiculite insulation.
Vermiculite attic insulation is a pebble–like, pour–in product that is usually light brown or gold in color. The EPA recommends that consumers assume that any vermiculite insulation contains asbestos and take appropriate precautions. It provides this advice to homeowners:
Do not disturb vermiculite attic insulation. Any disturbance has the potential to release asbestos fibers into the air. If you must go into attic space containing vermiculite insulation, make every effort to limit the number, duration, and activity level of those trips. Boxes or other items should not be stored in attics if retrieving them will disturb the insulation. Do not allow children to play in an attic with open areas of vermiculite insulation. Never attempt to remove vermiculite insulation. If removal is necessary, hire professionals trained and certified to safely remove the material. If you plan to remodel or conduct renovations that would disturb the vermiculite, hire professionals trained and certified to handle asbestos to safely remove the material. Homeowners can learn more about asbestos vermiculite through the EPA Hotline at 1–800–471–7127. The EPA has also issued a preliminary study of homes with asbestos–contaminated vermiculite insulation. The study points out that disturbing the vermiculite through routine repairs or remodeling can cause asbestos fibers to become airborne. The full text of the report is on the EPA web site. More info can be found at: http://www.occupationalhazards.com/articles/12965
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For a differing opinion, and a more complete discussion of the EPA and this issue, visit www.vermiculite.net
Vermiculite is not, in any way, related to asbestos. It does not burn, nor support mold, nor rot, nor conduct electricity. In many respects, it is an ideal material. Vermiculite is made from mica, which is heated- making it 'pop' like popcorn, into its' shape. Compress a piece, and you'll see it become mica again.
ONE mine had SOME contamination from a neighboring asbestos deposit. These minerals are not usually associated with each other. The problem was resolved ages ago.
I am also a bit tired of the asbestos hysteria. While the "asbestos hazard" is very real- I knew of this long before 99% of the "experts" out there- it is limited to very few forms of asbestos, and the risk is very dependent on fiber length. Too long or too short, and the fibers are of little hazard. In it's broadest definition, "asbestos" can even include one mineral that IS associated with it- gypsum! One of the major gypsum manufacturers recognised this early, and took great pains to segregate the two (decades ahead of their competition).
As best as I can tell, the "Vermiculite / Asbestos" connection is a pure concoction of overly broad assertions, half-truths, hysteria, and junk science.
I am also willing to hazard a guess that 99.99% of the dust we stir up in attics is just that- dust!
Reno - Much of what you said is true however, there is new information now regarding this topic that conficts with some of the information you are offering such as, multiple vermiculite sites have recently tested positive for asbestos! - It was confirmed that asbestos tainted vermiculite was distributed and installed in over 30 million US homes in 42 states! This current ABC news video link tell it all. http://abcnews.go.com/Video/playerIndex?id=1283702 BTW - I would not recommend that anyone pinch vermiculite.
Two of the best places to go look for info are directly from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention: www.cdc.gov and also at the ATSDR - Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry at www.atsdr.cdc.gov for searchable info.
The "major media" have had such a poor record, over the past few decades, as to the accuracy of their reports, and the integrety of their editorial process, that I have absolutely no confidence in them. Period.
Forged documents, planted press releases, incompetent reporters, lies and inuendo seem to be their stock in trade. If any of them -ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MTV, etc- told me the sky was blue, I'd look first. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day!
After this recent hurricane hype I have absolutely ZERO respect for the media. I agree with Reno on the asbestos deal. If you worked in a mine or a brake shoe factory you probably have a problem but if you just changed a set of brake shoes and didn't bathe in the dust you were not hurt. This stuff isn't plutonium. It deserves some PPE and the guys who grind on it all day need extensive PPE. The same is true of 100 other hazards.
Reno - I do not buy into most of the BS that the media pumps out either. Unfortunatly they are not the only informants/players in all of this. Please take the time to look at Buggabrens link to the CDC NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health). Place the word Vermiculite in the search. Here is the very first paragraph you will find:
Vermiculite has been an established commercial commodity for well over 50 years, and is currently used throughout the world. Vermiculite ore mined near Libby, Montana, which accounted for more than half the worldwide production of vermiculite from 1925 to 1990, was contaminated with asbestos and asbestos-like fibers. Workplace exposure to these fibers caused a serious health problem in local miners and millers, as well as some downstream workers. Mining stopped at the mine near Libby in 1990. However, concerns remain about health effects from environmental and other occupational exposures to asbestos-contaminated vermiculite, especially vermiculite that has been installed as loose-fill insulation in homes and other buildings.
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[This message has been edited by sponge (edited 11-09-2005).]
Let me make sure I understand the point....we are supposed to get all worried about an entire industry, when the only cause for concern is SOME product from ONE mine -since closed- and penalize the dozens of other mines that did not have this problem?
Sounds a lot like avoiding all automobiles, because there were problems with the Corvair.
I also have some problems with certain government agencies. One- the CDC- has gone so far away from "germs" as to claim 'gun control' is a 'health' issue, with a 'pandemic' of 'gun violence.'
Sorry. I have absolutely no use for the corruption of our institutions by those with a political agenda. The entire vermiculite controversy was very neatly disposed of years ago, and this latest attempt to stir up hysteria is simply iresponsibile.
Now, some folks can- and do- find something wrong with every facet of modern life. I will not sit in the dark and freeze so that they can feel better.
Even if every home was insulated with asbestos contaminated vermiculite, the harm you could attribute to it would be far less than what we already suffer from fire, mold, rodent infestation, and indirect losses due to inadequate insulation.
If you don't want to work around it, that's your choice. I'd rather crawl all day in contaminated insulation than work on a roof with pigeon droppings piled up. Let's not lose our perspective.
Zonkers! - I was just trying to offer credible information here. I researched all other previous threads about vermiculite before I started this post and found the information very lacking. The concern here is for tradesman of all types that might come in contact, inhale this stuff and die a miserable death. We all make decisions everyday that could affect the rest of our lives. I am only offering information about one more danger. Reno, You sure sound sure of yourself while contradicting multiple research groups. I hope you are deadly sure as you tell multiple people (people most prone to coming in contact with this stuff) to actually pinch the product possibly releasing asbestos. The word liability comes to my mind.. Too bad. I thought your job was to moderate, but you apparently have a degree in science as well. If you want to do the backstroke in a bed of this stuff, please be my guest. But unless you have extremely solid information, your general ranting about all the supposed liers in this case, only does a dis-service to us all of the professionals who frequent this forum.