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Protecting Yourself and Your Family from Asbestos in Insulation

While it may come as a surprise, it is a fact that asbestos is present in many houses built before 1980. Many owners of older homes worry about keeping themselves and their families safe from asbestos exposure. Part of doing so is understanding where and why asbestos might be found in your home.

Vermiculite insulation is just one product that is likely to contain asbestos in an older home. This is because the W.R. Grace mine in Libby, Montana provided 70% of all vermiculite sold in the U.S. for most of the twentieth century. Along with vermiculite, a deposit of asbestos existed at the mine, which contaminated much of the substance. The contaminated insulation material was sold under the brand name Zonolite, and used in walls and attics of American homes and other structures.

Thumbnail image for 1024px-Vermiculite1.jpg

If you suspect that your home contains vermiculite insulation, it would be wise to assume that asbestos is also present. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that you:

  • Do not disturb the insulation in your attic or within your walls.
  • Refrain from storing boxes or items in your attic which might disturb the insulation.
  • Never let children play in an attic with vermiculite insulation.
  • It is always recommended to hire a professional asbestos contractor if you are planning a remodel or want to renovate your home.
  • Never attempt to remove the insulation yourself.

If the insulation is contained within your walls or attic, where it cannot be disturbed, you and your family should be safe from breathing in microscopic asbestos fibers. Inhaling or ingesting these fibers can lead to serious and fatal asbestos-related diseases, like asbestosis and mesothelioma. You should alert your doctor to the possibility of exposure if your insulation has been disturbed in your presence, so they can monitor your health of symptoms of these conditions.


Source: EPA

Photo: Vermiculite after heating and ready to use by KENPEI via Wikipedia

2 Comments

Great advice here. It's so important for people to be able to recognize asbestos when they see it. Thanks for sharing this.

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