As with all other materials it is important to adopt normal good working practices and to comply with local and national regulatory requirements. Next, read: How to Improve Attic Ventilation. And, the type of asbestos found in vermiculite—called amphibole—is even more hazardous than the chrysotile asbestos that was more commonly used in the U.S. It is commonly used around the world in various forms, not just for gardening, without any negative human impact. If not, what's a good substitute? 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. As of today, vermiculite is considered safe for organic gardening as long as it does not contain dust. People have a problem with it because they don't understand how it works. But breathing it constantly or in excessive concentrations can cause deposits to accumulate in respiratory passages, irritating them and making your cough. These include various forms of cancer as well as asbestosis. The Zonolite Attic Insulation Trust was established in 2014 to help homeowners with the cost of removing Zonolite Attic Insulation from their homes. Vermiculite is best used for water-loving plants that need their soil to stay moist at all times. Today, most vermiculite is safe. If your home was built before 1990, you might have vermiculite insulation in your walls or attic. Such a low silicate content makes it largely harmless to the lungs; if you breathe it, you won't suffer irreversible damage. Learn about the vermiculite lightweight concrete, thermal insulation for many heat resistant applications and fireproofing. Nicole LeBoeuf-Little is a freelancer from New Orleans, writing professionally since 1994. Vermiculite has been used in building insulation, potting soil and fertilizer. 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. 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. Where to buy various grade sizes of loose vermiculite insulation for building not just wood fired ovens? Earlier when vermiculite was mined, the ore often contained asbestos. In Minne­sota, where I live, an insulation contractor’s first step is having the insulation tested for asbestos. It is also a known carcinogen. It does not have any proven toxic or carcinogenic effects and does not contain any trace of asbestos or other harmful minerals. The material holds a lot of liquid while retaining characteristics that make it easy to handle, and it is safe for animals to ingest. It might look harmless, but some vermiculite has a nasty personality. But some people might wonder if vermiculite is safe. As a result, it works well in the manufacture of animal feed. This property was well known to people in the 19th century, although it was treated as a novelty rather than a potentially useful mineral until people realized its potential for things like insulation and concrete mixing. Such a low silicate content makes it largely harmless to the lungs; if you breathe it, you won't suffer irreversible damage. Disposal of vermiculite is not hazardous to the environment. -Ruth Allen, Snohomish, WA. If you use it wet it is fine. Not all vermiculite produced before 1990 contains amphibole asbestos fibres. Add a healthy scoop of vermiculite to the potting soil of plants that like lots of water. Vermiculite itself is safe to use; there is no evidence that any acute or chronic toxicity or carcinogenicity exists from long-term exposure to vermiculite. The EPA defines an asbestos-containing material (ACM) as having greater than 1 percent asbestos. Vermiculite is a light and airy rock that’s an important media in growing indoor and outdoor plants. Although not all vermiculite contains asbestos, some products were made with vermiculite that contained asbestos until the early 1990s. But some people might wonder if vermiculite is safe. * Assume Asbestos Contamination: There’s no firm cut off date for asbestos contaminated insulation; so to be safe, treat all vermiculite insulation as if it contains asbestos. 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 … Not all vermiculite sold in Canada before 1990 contains asbestos fibres. And according to the Zonolite Attic Insulation Trust (see “The good news” below), the presence of vermiculite is tantamount to the presence of asbestos. We recommend our users to update the browser. Recent short stories appear on Ideomancer.com and in Ellen Datlow's anthology "Blood and Other Cravings." If it’s found to contain less than 1 percent asbestos, it’s not considered an ACM. Is Vermiculite Toxic? It's also a pH-neutral way to add calcium and magnesium. Even though vermiculite and perlite are safe for vegetables, that doesn’t mean they are necessary for them. Is it good to add vermiculite to the substrate? If you use it dry it will wick the moisture out of everything...including a spider. 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. Vermiculite insulation granules. The name “vermiculite” is derived from the Latin word for worm, a reference to the wormy threads of material which form when vermiculite is exfoliated. 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. That’s misleading, as it seems to imply that the product is safe. Current EPA regulations ban products which contain 1% or more asbestos. While in operation, the mine in Libby produced most of the world’s supply of vermiculite. In the meantime, leave it alone, even if you had it tested and the test came back “clean.” For more information, visit zonoliteatticinsulation.com. Is vermiculite safe for houseplants? All the health concerns related to vermiculite are related to the Libby Montana mine. Vermiculate insulation is pebble like concrete, which is gold or light brown in color. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) recommends that if you have vermiculite, it’s best to assume it contains asbestos and leave it alone. Although testing of vermiculite mined in the U.S. is stringent, the examination of vermiculite in other countries is not always so rigorous. Copyright Leaf Group Ltd. // Leaf Group Lifestyle. Nuisance dust may also get in your eyes and cause irritation there. However, to be safe and in the absence of evidence to the contrary, it is reasonable to assume that if your building has older vermiculite-based insulation, it may contain some amphibole asbestos. Here are other things you can’t just toss in the trash at home. For this reason, I recom­­mend having this work done by asbestos abatement professionals regardless of the test results. For decades, W … It's also a pH-neutral way to add calcium and magnesium. 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. We are no longer supporting IE (Internet Explorer). Vermiculite from other sources has since been tested and proven to be asbestos free and harmless. Here are other things you can’t just toss in the trash at home. In the past, asbestos was found in some vermiculite mines. Both perlite and vermiculite are safe, effective and easy to use for gardening. The United States’ Environmental Protection Agency has conducted similar testing and come to the same conclusion – that horticultural vermiculite is considered safe and does not pose an elevated risk of cancer to the user. Because vermiculite is soft, sterile, absorbent and free-flowing, it works well as a support and carrying medium for certain types of nutrients, including vitamin preparations, fat concentrations and molasses. Unfortunately, an estimated 75 percent of it came from Libby, Montana, where it usually was contaminated with toxic amphibole asbestos. Your potting soil additive is probably safe. While vermiculite from these mines is thought to be “safe”, the layers of igneous rock where vermiculite is found almost always contain asbestos. Vermiculite in its pure form is safe. 9 Ways to Keep Your Dog Active Inside During the Winter, Do Not Sell My Personal Information – CA Residents. You can have it tested for asbestos, but here’s the rub. It’s often up to home inspectors to spot the difference between the vermiculite that contains asbestos and the kind that does not. Indeed, most vermiculite on the market today is very safe. A nearby deposit of asbestos contaminated the product and cast suspicion over the entire vermiculite industry. Vermiculite sold today is subject to strict industry protocols that ensure it is safe to use. Root vegetables like carrot, radish, potatoes, beets, onion and garlic will all need the additional drainage. Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map! Contact an insulation contractor. Vermiculite is found in market in different sizes. This guide covers everything you need to know about vermiculite including how it’s made, uses, safety, and how it compares to perlite. All Rights Reserved. According to its material safety data sheet (MSDS), uncontaminated vermiculite is only classified as a "nuisance dust." Vermiculite is a mineral that was used for insulation. The trust reimburses homeowners for 55 percent of their removal and reinsulation costs, with a maximum payout per owner of $4,125. To reduce the amount of vermiculite you inhale, handle it in only in well-ventilated areas and wet it down as soon as possible. To prevent dust getting in your eyes, wear protective goggles. All those mines were closed and now vermiculite is considered a safe growing substrate. Exposure to asbestos is the main cause of mesothelioma, an aggressive and deadly cancer. Some Vermiculite Is Safe Most of the risk today from vermiculite stems from insulation installed in houses while the Libby mine was in operation. Vermiculite is a hydrous mineral type of the Mica family of phyllosilicates, often golden-brown in colour. Vermiculite is a naturally occurring mineral that is perfectly safe when pure. You're probably familiar with this mica-like mineral as a potting mix additive: it breaks up the soil, providing better aeration, and it retains water and fertilizer. However, that is not to say it cannot contain asbestos. While it’s true that undisturbed, encapsulated asbestos doesn’t pose a health risk, the asbestos in vermiculite insulation isn’t encapsulated and can easily become airborne during cleaning, maintenance or remodeling. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from University of Washington and attended the professional SF/F workshop Viable Paradise. Up to 85 percent of all vermiculite insulation in the U.S. came from a mine in Libby, Montana, sold under the name Zonolite. The risk of airborne particles in this method is high. She has published articles in "Pangaia Magazine" and eGuides at StyleCareer.com. Vermiculite is not a toxic substance and safe to use in gardening. Vermiculite has many uses, from insulation to swimming pools. Asbestos is a fibrogenic dust, which, if inhaled, can cause lasting damage to the lungs. This category, also known as "inert dust," contains less than 1 percent quartz. However, if you believe that your home may contain vermiculite insulation, it is reasonable to assume that it … The color, composition, and pH of vermiculite vary from mine to mine. Providing the vermiculite is used and handled in accordance with the suppliers’ recommendations, it can be used in a safe and environmentally friendly way. All plants need good drainage, but certain vegetables will do better with really loose and aerated soil. That means no asbestos abatement contractors get involved, and removal of the vermiculite insulation is done with essentially a giant vacuum. It is sensitive to mechanical compression, which may pulverize particles. However, because the fine dust particles can irritate the respiratory system, it’s advisable to wear a protective mask. There are a number of steps homeowners can take to reduce the health risks of vermiculite insulation containing asbestos. While it would be nice to assume that all vermiculite was designed with the health and safety of consumers in mind, that’s not always the case. Most of the risk today from vermiculite stems from insulation installed in houses while the Libby mine was in operation. Vermiculite is a fairly safe material to use, because as we mentioned earlier, this is a natural mineral. Vermiculite was mined in Libby, Montana, from the 1920s until the mine closed in 1990. Vermiculite has many uses, from insulation to swimming pools. Nearly all vermiculite contains asbestos, which can cause lung cancer when inhaled. Vermiculite itself is not toxic and is safe to use. A maximum payout per owner of $ 4,125 beets, onion and garlic will all need the drainage. S misleading, as it does not eGuides at StyleCareer.com difference between the vermiculite insulation asbestos... Stories appear on Ideomancer.com and in Ellen Datlow 's anthology `` Blood and Cravings. 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