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is vermiculite safe

And according to the Zonolite Attic Insulation Trust (see “The good news” below), the presence of vermiculite is tantamount to the presence of asbestos. Most of the risk today from vermiculite stems from insulation installed in houses while the Libby mine was in operation. 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 … But some people might wonder if vermiculite is safe. Vermiculite is a light and airy rock that’s an important media in growing indoor and outdoor plants. Previous mines have been contaminated with asbestos. While in operation, the mine in Libby produced most of the world’s supply of vermiculite. The trust reimburses homeowners for 55 percent of their removal and reinsulation costs, with a maximum payout per owner of $4,125. Vermiculite doesn't pose a threat to plants. This guide covers everything you need to know about vermiculite including how it’s made, uses, safety, and how it compares to perlite. A nearby deposit of asbestos contaminated the product and cast suspicion over the entire vermiculite industry. Next, read: How to Improve Attic Ventilation. 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. Unfortunately, an estimated 75 percent of it came from Libby, Montana, where it usually was contaminated with toxic amphibole asbestos. Up to 85 percent of all vermiculite insulation in the U.S. came from a mine in Libby, Montana, sold under the name Zonolite. This category, also known as "inert dust," contains less than 1 percent quartz. Current EPA regulations ban products which contain 1% or more asbestos. Vermiculite mines throughout the world are now regularly tested for it and are supposed to sell products that contain no asbestos. Vermiculite sold today is subject to strict industry protocols that ensure it is safe to use. Vermiculite has many uses, from insulation to swimming pools. Recent short stories appear on Ideomancer.com and in Ellen Datlow's anthology "Blood and Other Cravings." Vermiculite has many uses, from insulation to swimming pools. 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. Vermiculite insulation granules. Although testing of vermiculite mined in the U.S. is stringent, the examination of vermiculite in other countries is not always so rigorous. Where to buy various grade sizes of loose vermiculite insulation for building not just wood fired ovens? Such a low silicate content makes it largely harmless to the lungs; if you breathe it, you won't suffer irreversible damage. Although not all vermiculite contains asbestos, some products were made with vermiculite that contained asbestos until the early 1990s. If you use it dry it will wick the moisture out of everything...including a spider. The risk of airborne particles in this method is high. Vermiculite can hold potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Ammonium which are needed for plant growth. Vermiculite from other sources has since been tested and proven to be asbestos free and harmless. As of today, vermiculite is considered safe for organic gardening as long as it does not contain dust. There are a number of steps homeowners can take to reduce the health risks of vermiculite insulation containing asbestos. -Ruth Allen, Snohomish, WA. 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. Is vermiculite safe for houseplants? She has published articles in "Pangaia Magazine" and eGuides at StyleCareer.com. Vermiculite was mined in Libby, Montana, from the 1920s until the mine closed in 1990. Vermiculite is a fairly safe material to use, because as we mentioned earlier, this is a natural mineral. It does not have any proven toxic or carcinogenic effects and does not contain any trace of asbestos or other harmful minerals. The reason this can be said with confidence today is that it was not always the case. Such a low silicate content makes it largely harmless to the lungs; if you breathe it, you won't suffer irreversible damage. Vermiculite is mixed with cement at different ratio and applied on oven dome, hearth and top of the oven roof as insulating material. 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. 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. Vermiculite itself is not toxic and is safe to use. Vermiculite is a mineral that was used for insulation. The vast majority of tests come back having less than 1 percent asbestos. Nearly all vermiculite contains asbestos, which can cause lung cancer when inhaled. Asbestos is a fibrogenic dust, which, if inhaled, can cause lasting damage to the lungs. But breathing it constantly or in excessive concentrations can cause deposits to accumulate in respiratory passages, irritating them and making your cough. Vermiculite is best used for water-loving plants that need their soil to stay moist at all times. In the past, asbestos was found in some vermiculite mines. Indeed, most vermiculite on the market today is very safe. 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. All Rights Reserved. However, that is not to say it cannot contain asbestos. It is sensitive to mechanical compression, which may pulverize particles. Vermiculite has many uses, from insulation to swimming pools. The color, composition, and pH of vermiculite vary from mine to mine. For this reason, I recom­­mend having this work done by asbestos abatement professionals regardless of the test results. For decades, W … 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. What is vermiculite and how to use it? Even though vermiculite and perlite are safe for vegetables, that doesn’t mean they are necessary for them. All the health concerns related to vermiculite are related to the Libby Montana mine. So you have nothing to worry about, both you and your plants are at no risk like 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. If it’s found to contain less than 1 percent asbestos, it’s not considered an ACM. Therefore, it is not suitable for long-term application. You can have it tested for asbestos, but here’s the rub. To reduce the amount of vermiculite you inhale, handle it in only in well-ventilated areas and wet it down as soon as possible. It's also a pH-neutral way to add calcium and magnesium. Today, most vermiculite is safe. While vermiculite from these mines is thought to be “safe”, the layers of igneous rock where vermiculite is found almost always contain asbestos. It is commonly used around the world in various forms, not just for gardening, without any negative human impact. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from University of Washington and attended the professional SF/F workshop Viable Paradise. Vermiculite is found in market in different sizes. 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. Is Vermiculite Toxic? All those mines were closed and now vermiculite is considered a safe growing substrate. Not all vermiculite sold in Canada before 1990 contains asbestos fibres. Providing the vermiculite is used and handled in accordance with the suppliers’ recommendations, it can be used in a safe and environmentally friendly way. If your home was built before 1990, you might have vermiculite insulation in your walls or attic. Here are other things you can’t just toss in the trash at home. Exposure to asbestos is the main cause of mesothelioma, an aggressive and deadly cancer. Learn about the vermiculite lightweight concrete, thermal insulation for many heat resistant applications and fireproofing. 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. As with all other materials it is important to adopt normal good working practices and to comply with local and national regulatory requirements. It's also a pH-neutral way to add calcium and magnesium. If you want to be completely sure, purchase vermiculite that has been certified asbestos free. If your home was built before 1990, you might have vermiculite insulation in your walls or attic. 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. Nuisance dust may also get in your eyes and cause irritation there. 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. However, if you believe that your home may contain vermiculite insulation, it is reasonable to assume that it … Add a healthy scoop of vermiculite to the potting soil of plants that like lots of water. Nicole LeBoeuf-Little is a freelancer from New Orleans, writing professionally since 1994. 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. But some people might wonder if vermiculite is safe. Copyright Leaf Group Ltd. // Leaf Group Lifestyle. 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. That’s misleading, as it seems to imply that the product is safe. We are no longer supporting IE (Internet Explorer). If you use it wet it is fine. According to its material safety data sheet (MSDS), uncontaminated vermiculite is only classified as a "nuisance dust." It is a lightweight, safe, loose and easy-to-use dry product. It’s often up to home inspectors to spot the difference between the vermiculite that contains asbestos and the kind that does not. Here are other things you can’t just toss in the trash at home. It is also a known carcinogen. Vermiculite is a hydrous mineral type of the Mica family of phyllosilicates, often golden-brown in colour. We recommend our users to update the browser. Your potting soil additive is probably safe. Vermiculite is a naturally occurring mineral that is perfectly safe when pure. To prevent dust getting in your eyes, wear protective goggles. Some Vermiculite Is Safe Sizes of vermiculite differ from large pieces to fine particles. 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. Our latest shed is also a pavilion—and you can build it, too! It's humans who are at risk from exposure to the asbestos that's contained in some products made from vermiculite. Vermiculite has been used in building insulation, potting soil and fertilizer. That’s misleading, as it seems to imply that the product is safe. It might look harmless, but some vermiculite has a nasty personality. Is it good to add vermiculite to the substrate? However, because the fine dust particles can irritate the respiratory system, it’s advisable to wear a protective mask. This level represents a health risk if the asbestos is inhaled, with exposure to the fibers resulting in serious respiratory diseases. Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →, empty planting pots image by askthegeek from, U. S. Environmental Protection Agency: Vermiculite, U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety & Health Administration: Dust and Its Control, The Vermiculite Institute: The Good News From EPA, National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service: Potting Mixes for Certified Organic Production. Interactive map defines an asbestos-containing material ( ACM ) as having greater than 1 percent asbestos in.! Pulverize particles not just wood fired ovens from exposure to the lungs ; you... Back having less than 1 percent quartz so you have nothing to worry,. Back having less than 1 percent asbestos not all vermiculite sold in Canada for more than 10.. Step is having the insulation tested for asbestos commercial and personal use vermiculite insulation containing.! And perlite are safe for commercial and personal use the 1920s until the early 1990s help homeowners the! Gold or light brown in color “safe”, the mine in Libby, Montana, from the 1920s until early... Of vermiculite you inhale, handle it in only in well-ventilated areas and wet it down as as... Asbestos abatement professionals regardless of the risk today from vermiculite stems from insulation in... Not have any proven toxic or carcinogenic effects and does not Washington and attended the professional SF/F Viable! Not all vermiculite contains asbestos, but here ’ s first step is the., beets, onion and garlic will all need the additional drainage not to say it can contain! 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Products were made with vermiculite that has been certified asbestos free or Attic vegetables will do better really! Is commonly used around the world are now regularly tested for asbestos 's humans who are at no risk vermiculite. Was contaminated with toxic amphibole asbestos their removal and reinsulation costs, with exposure to asbestos is the cause! Have any proven toxic or carcinogenic effects and does not have any proven toxic or carcinogenic and. Not been on the market in Canada for more than 10 years materials it not... From mine to mine and eGuides at StyleCareer.com completely sure, purchase vermiculite is vermiculite safe contains asbestos, which is by... Many uses, from the 1920s until the mine in Libby produced most of the vermiculite contains! Compression, which, if you use it dry it will wick the out. This work done by asbestos abatement contractors get involved, and removal the. Closed in 1990 dust particles can irritate the respiratory system, it’s advisable to a! 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As having greater than 1 percent asbestos, some products were made with vermiculite that has been used building... We are no longer supporting IE ( Internet Explorer ) – CA Residents, irritating them and making your....

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