Sizes of vermiculite differ from large pieces to fine particles. As a quick summary, one can say that vermiculite is typically used for increasing water holding capacity, while perlite is used for drainage and air porosity. Disposal of vermiculite is not hazardous to the environment. While vermiculite does not inherently contain asbestos, it has become popularly associated with the risk of asbestos inhalation to the point that some gardeners will not use it at all. If your home was built before 1990, you might have vermiculite insulation in your walls or attic. If not, what's a good substitute? Don't rub your eyes if this happens; instead, rinse your eyes with water. The trust reimburses homeowners for 55 percent of their removal and reinsulation costs, with a maximum payout per owner of $4,125. Up to 85 percent of all vermiculite insulation in the U.S. came from a mine in Libby, Montana, sold under the name Zonolite. Exposure to asbestos is the main cause of mesothelioma, an aggressive and deadly cancer. Itâs often up to home inspectors to spot the difference between the vermiculite that contains asbestos and the kind that does not. The risk of airborne particles in this method is high. Such a low silicate content makes it largely harmless to the lungs; if you breathe it, you won't suffer irreversible damage. Unfortunately, an estimated 75 percent of it came from Libby, Montana, where it usually was contaminated with toxic amphibole asbestos. That means no asbestos abatement contractors get involved, and removal of the vermiculite insulation is done with essentially a giant vacuum. If you use it wet it is fine. We are no longer supporting IE (Internet Explorer) as we strive to provide site experiences for browsers that support new web standards and security practices. In the meantime, leave it alone, even if you had it tested and the test came back “clean.” For more information, visit zonoliteatticinsulation.com. This guide covers everything you need to know about vermiculite including how itâs made, uses, safety, and how it compares to perlite. While pure vermiculite is relatively safe, there are a number of cases where vermiculite-based products were contaminated with asbestos during the extraction â¦ Vermiculite in its pure form is safe. If you use it dry it will wick the moisture out of everything...including a spider. Nuisance dust may also get in your eyes and cause irritation there. Vermiculate insulation is pebble like concrete, which is gold or light brown in color. And according to the Zonolite Attic Insulation Trust (see “The good news” below), the presence of vermiculite is tantamount to the presence of asbestos. But some people might wonder if vermiculite is safe. These include various forms of cancer as well as asbestosis. So you have nothing to worry about, both you and your plants are at no risk like vermiculite. Not all vermiculite produced before 1990 contains amphibole asbestos fibres. For decades, W â¦ The medium is considered safe for commercial and personal use. Thatâs misleading, as it seems to imply that the product is safe. Contact an insulation contractor. As a result, it works well in the manufacture of animal feed. * Assume Asbestos Contamination: Thereâs no firm cut off date for asbestos contaminated insulation; so to be safe, treat all vermiculite insulation as if it contains asbestos. The EPA defines an asbestos-containing material (ACM) as having greater than 1 percent asbestos. Vermiculite is a light and airy rock thatâs an important media in growing indoor and outdoor plants. Any health and safety problems that you may hear about are associated with one specific vermiculite deposit where naturally occurring asbestos minerals developed alongside the vermiculite. Most of the risk today from vermiculite stems from insulation installed in houses while the Libby mine was in operation. Testing is expensive and inaccurate, and the probability of asbestos contamination is so great, that the EPA recommends erring on the side of caution rather than testing for asbestos. Vermiculite produced by the Libby Mine has not been on the market in Canada for more than 10 years. Vermiculite has many uses, from insulation to swimming pools. People have a problem with it because they don't understand how it works. However, because the fine dust particles can irritate the respiratory system, itâs advisable to wear a protective mask. To reduce the amount of vermiculite you inhale, handle it in only in well-ventilated areas and wet it down as soon as possible. Vermiculite is found in market in different sizes. Providing the vermiculite is used and handled in accordance with the suppliersâ recommendations, it can be used in a safe and environmentally friendly way. It's also a pH-neutral way to add calcium and magnesium. Vermiculite has been used in building insulation, potting soil and fertilizer. Copyright Leaf Group Ltd. // Leaf Group Lifestyle. This association originates in a mine near Libby, Montana, which supplied over 70 percent of all vermiculite available in the U.S. from 1919 until the mine's closure in 1990. It is sensitive to mechanical compression, which may pulverize particles. But, as part of a major class-action lawsuit, a study determined that exposure to vermiculite with less than 1 percent asbestos is still a potential health hazard and the product should be considered an ACM. All the health concerns related to vermiculite are related to the Libby Montana mine. Vermiculite is a fairly safe material to use, because as we mentioned earlier, this is a natural mineral. However, if you believe that your home may contain vermiculite insulation, it is reasonable to assume that it â¦ Indeed, most vermiculite on the market today is very safe. The vast majority of tests come back having less than 1 percent asbestos. Some Vermiculite Is Safe A nearby deposit of asbestos contaminated the product and cast suspicion over the entire vermiculite industry. Is vermiculite safe for houseplants? In Minnesota, where I live, an insulation contractor’s first step is having the insulation tested for asbestos. -Ruth Allen, Snohomish, WA. Current EPA regulations ban products which contain 1% or more asbestos. The Zonolite Attic Insulation Trust was established in 2014 to help homeowners with the cost of removing Zonolite Attic Insulation from their homes. All plants need good drainage, but certain vegetables will do better with really loose and aerated soil. Although not all vermiculite contains asbestos, some products were made with vermiculite that contained asbestos until the early 1990s. If your home was built before 1990, you might have vermiculite insulation in your walls or attic. Vermiculite is best used for water-loving plants that need their soil to stay moist at all times. If it’s found to contain less than 1 percent asbestos, it’s not considered an ACM. While it would be nice to assume that all vermiculite was designed with the health and safety of consumers in mind, thatâs not always the case. It might look harmless, but some vermiculite has a nasty personality. Not all vermiculite sold in Canada before 1990 contains asbestos fibres. Unlike fibreglass insulation, it will not degrade over time, which can break down and cause health problems, and as it is also resistant to moisture, it will not be a breeding ground for mould and mildew, the spores from which can cause respiratory problems in those who â¦ Root vegetables like carrot, radish, potatoes, beets, onion and garlic will all need the additional drainage. Vermiculite mines throughout the world are now regularly tested for it and are supposed to sell products that contain no asbestos. The material holds a lot of liquid while retaining characteristics that make it easy to handle, and it is safe for animals to ingest. For this reason, I recommend having this work done by asbestos abatement professionals regardless of the test results. Reuben Saltzman has been a home inspector since 1997 and is the president of Structure Tech, a home inspection company in St. Louis Park, MN. Next, read: How to Improve Attic Ventilation. Learn about the vermiculite lightweight concrete, thermal insulation for many heat resistant applications and fireproofing. She has published articles in "Pangaia Magazine" and eGuides at StyleCareer.com. If you happen to get vermiculite with residual dust, you should not use it for organic gardening as it will contain EPA regulated amount of asbestos, which is less than 1 percent and even this amount is still very hazardous to human health. But some people might wonder if vermiculite is safe. All those mines were closed and now vermiculite is considered a safe growing substrate. Vermiculite is mixed with cement at different ratio and applied on oven dome, hearth and top of the oven roof as insulating material. Always contain asbestos additional drainage other countries is not to say it can not contain any trace asbestos! A is vermiculite safe substance and safe to handle vermiculite when potting plants or working in the past, was. 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