Vermiculite 101 – Why it shouldn’t be in Your Home Anymore

Vermiculite 101 – Why it shouldn’t be in Your Home Anymore

Home insulation plays a huge role in ensuring that your home is functional, cozy and perfect for you. On the other hand, attention has to be paid to the kind of insulation being used. Many homeowners are advised to be cautious regarding the kind of insulation they are opting for because it can be seriously damaging to their health. Since you have to spend all your time indoors, the kind of insulation you are making use of, will make a huge impact on your health.

When people were making use of asbestos, they didn’t pay much attention to this factor. However, when they did realize it was problematic and posed serious health risks, its use was promptly ceased. You’d think that history wouldn’t repeat itself, but it actually did. At that time, asbestos had been widely recognized for its dangerous nature, but everyone was unaware that there was another kind of insulation that also caused harm — vermiculite insulation.

Much like asbestos, vermiculite is a mineral based material that can be naturally mined and was used for insulation. The fact that it was fire resistant added to its favorability as a great material of choice for insulation indoors. In fact, once the use of asbestos was stopped, many businesses considered vermiculite to be the best alternative. It was heavily used for commercial, residential and industrial homes and was used indiscriminately until data regarding the use and hazards of vermiculite emerged.

Despite its growing popularity at that time period, vermiculite is no longer being utilized because there are various factors that come into play here, almost all of them negatively impact your health.

A Thing of the Past

Before the dangerous nature of vermiculite was identified, it was popularly used in homes. In fact, it was common for people to order it by the bag and simply pour it in the attic or in the exterior walls. While it was being utilized since the 1920’s, vermiculite became more popular in the 1970’s, particularly with the Baby Boomer’s creating a sudden increase in housing. With asbestos being identified as poisonous and harmful for health, new houses needed another material for insulation and vermiculite became popular.

By this point, the use of asbestos had been curbed and in search for another material, vermiculite was given the green light. Owing to its many qualities, it was naturally embraced as the best alternative. In Canada, vermiculite was available under various different names, including Zololite. During this time, there was also an ongoing energy crisis and the Canadian Home Insulation Program (CHIP) actually approved the use of vermiculite in large numbers for homeowners. Vermiculite was abundantly available and widely used. The extreme versatility it had to offer made it great for homeowners to use and after the asbestos debacle, this form of insulation was considered to be safe for homeowners.

Contaminated Vermiculite

Unfortunately, vermiculite was largely being mined from a mine that was situated in Libby, Montana. The geological environment here made vermiculite grow naturally. However, this geological environment also favoured the growth of asbestos that was contaminating the vermiculite. By the time it was found out, there had been tons of thousands of bags of vermiculite sold, largely under the name of Zonolite.

While this mine was shut down in 1990, it had been functioning since 1963 and had sold tons of vermiculite worldwide. There was no knowing how much vermiculite had been contaminated. While Zonolite Attic Insulation did administer a recall, there were plenty of homeowners who had installed the contaminated vermiculite in their homes. It should be noted that while not all vermiculite being sold was contaminated with asbestos fibres, a majority of the contaminated vermiculite insulation was being sold under the name of Zonolite.

The problem also lies in the fact there were so much vermiculite sold for insulation that to this day, it is believed that certain homes can have contaminated vermiculite insulation in their homes.

The Danger of Asbestos Poisoning

Contaminated vermiculite insulation means that it contains traces of asbestos fibres in it. However, these aren’t just regular fibres. Vermiculite contains a mutated form of asbestos,  which is classified as termolite. This is not always found in natural asbestos and is largely found in contaminated vermiculite insulation.

Out of all the different forms of asbestos fibres that one can come into contact with, termolite asbestos fibres are counted among the most deadly ones. Not just because they are damaging to the lungs, but because exposure to this can significantly increase the risk for the following:

  • Increased Chances of Lung Cancer – Due to the microscopic nature of the asbestos fibres and particles, they are easily inhaled into the body. There they can go into the lungs and respiratory system and cause lung cancer. The main problem lies in the fact that early symptoms of lung cancer are minimal and they often go undetected. By the time they are noticed, the cancer has advanced. The symptoms for lung cancer include shortness of breath, weight loss, chest pain, fever, coughing and mild irritation and are not only counted among other health problems, it often requires a number of tests and x-rays to find the true culprit.
  • Asbestosis – Asbestos Poisoning – Asbestosis is a chronic lung disease that occurs with exposure to asbestos for years. The fibres go into the lungs and causes scars or tears in the lung. The onset of this condition is very slow with it taking around 5 to 10 years to become noticeable. However, asbestosis can be different for each person. Identification of this condition can be difficult at times because the scar tissue can often not show clearly on the x-rays. While the condition can be improved with medication, it is a chronic ailment.
  • Mesothelioma – Another cancer condition caused by asbestos fibres, Mesothelioma causes cancer in the peritoneal or pleural cells in the lungs. These refer to the abdominal cavity in the lungs. The tumour can either be in the lungs or in this abdominal cavity which can be difficult areas to operate in. Other symptoms include dry coughing, weight loss and pain in the upper chest and arms. The on-set of Mesothelioma is slow and it can take around 10 years or even 40 for the condition to manifest itself noticeably.

These are the major dangers you can face when you have exposure to contaminated vermiculite in your home. Keep in mind that for the elderly, or children who have weak or developing respiratory systems, the effects can be worse and life threatening. To keep you and your family safe, it is a good idea to get the insulation in your home checked, removed and replaced if it is vermiculite insulation.

Vermiculite Removal Options

If you are considering removal of vermiculite insulation, it is always a good idea to turn towards the experts to do so. With their help, you can ensure that any removal is done professionally and with no further damage to your health or the infrastructure of your house. Given the fact that more fibres are released when the insulation is disturbed, the professionals are your best bet as they can remove the insulation without causing any harm to your health.

They can also run tests to ensure that removal is necessary for you. In some cases, where removal is not possible, they can apply preventative measures that will help them to seal off the area. Both scenarios are extremely dangerous to handle on your own so never consider opting for DIY solutions when you are faced with this situation. You can actually find plenty of professional companies that offer proper vermiculite removal services. Not only can they inspect the insulation to ensure that it is safe for you, they can also work out a proper plan to help remove the insulation and replace it as soon as possible.

We Can Help You!

If you are interested in working with a professional company to help you insulate your house properly, you should get in touch with Nikom Construction. Our services are designed to not help with proper insulation of your home; we can also address a number of different projects, including creative ones that add more value to your home, make it eco-friendly, energy efficient and more.

Whether you want an estimate on insulating your home or want to get more ideas regarding insulation, you can easily get in touch with us and our experts can successfully evaluate and asses the proper mode to take when considering insulation options for your home. For more information regarding our services, feel free to call us at: 519-721-6457. You can also visit our website to fill in an online form to get a free consultation session and a free estimate on your home.

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