Vermiculite insulation in this attic ceiling may contain asbestos fibers. Incidental Vermiculite Building Insulation Exposure Hazards
Research on probable risks of exposure to vermiculite in residential buildings

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Vermiculite insulation exposure levels in residential buildings:

What are reasonable risk assessments for people exposed to vermiculite insulation that contains asbestos (not all does) and that has been installed in residential buildings. Most research on health hazards from asbestos-containing vermiculite insulation has focused on workers at vermiculite mining or processing sites or at communities close to those locations

. But those researchers have extrapolated from that work to offer observations about the probability that amphibole-asbestos in Zonolite insulation is hazarous to occupants of normal residential structures where vermiculite was used as attic or wall insulation.

This article series explains how to recognize vermiculite building insulation that may contain asbestos fibers. This article series assists building buyers, owners or inspectors who need to identify asbestos materials (or probable-asbestos) in buildings by simple visual inspection. We provide photographs and descriptive text of asbestos insulation and other asbestos-containing products to permit identification of definite, probable, or possible asbestos materials in buildings.

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Hazards from Incidental Exposure to Vermiculite: Research & Opinion

Reader Question: accidental exposure of children to vermiculite insulation that might contain asbestos

We were researching when we found your website. We're currently remodeling our bathroom and found vermiculite insulation and the balsam wool insulation. We had no idea what either was and my 5 year old daughter and 2 year old sun were in the bathroom with me playing in the vermiculite insulation.

My wife and I feel like horrible parents after reading all about vermiculite insulation. She saw that you guys do testing but we read it can be expensive and the results can be skewed? we're not sure what to do or who to trust. I feel pretty good about the balsam wool insulation but your site seemed very knowledgeable and we read that we need to arrange something before sending out to your lab.
Thanks for any information


Sorry, I'm not able to perform testing of your insulation. To assure readers of our impartiality, in general we don't offer goods or services for sale.

I'm not sure you need to test as I elaborate below, but if you want to proceed you can use any certified asbestos test lab,

ASBESTOS TESTING LAB LIST will help you choose one.

Even if you test a sample and confirm that it contains asbestos I'm doubtful that that will change what you do about the loose insulation now. In any event it'd make sense to handle the material as if it contained asbestos - fine particulates are respiratory irritants regardless. Clean up using a HEPA vacuum cleaner, damp mopping, etc.

Don't berate yourselves. A limited, short term exposure to dust is unlikely to produce measurable effects. The people who developed asbestosis were generally workers in construction or in factories where the air was thick with material. I'm not cavalier about your kids, I've had kids, grand kids and so on myself but that's my OPINION, supported by some of the citations below such as Hughes (1994) and Vinikoor (2010)*.

Wash everybody and stay out of the dust. If you see the kids coughing consult with their pediatrician for follow-up. Take a look at the REFERENCES below for more details from the US EPA. Don't panic - doing so is likely to result in gouging by a clean-up contractor.


References on asbestos hazards from incidental or other vermiculite exposure

Some of these references on asbestos hazards from vermiculite exposure can be scary if you don't read them carefully. Noting the emphasis on the unusual nature of some of these cases means that non-occupational exposure to asbestos-containing vermiculite insulation has only rarely been linked to disease.

From Radon data & research we know that smokers have an 80 times higher risk of lung cancer from breathing in small harmful particles to which radon or its daughters were attached. Smoking is a risk multiplier that it seems to me probably pertained to asbestos hazards as well. Unless your kids are smokers, one might infer that their risk is further reduced.


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