Shocking report about attic insulation!

Old 11-05-05, 07:25 AM
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Exclamation Shocking report about attic insulation!

I am sincerely hoping that those knowledgeable of attic insulation materials will elaborate on this.

Last night (Nov 4, 05), the ABC television program Night Line did an alarming segment on attic insulation materials.

The gist of the report was that various kinds of attic insulation materials may contain asbestos products which are harmful to everyone's health (proven to cause lung cancer). The main culprit was reported to be attic insulation consisting of a "pebbly-like" material, however all types of "blown-in" attic insulation, including the "cotton candy"-looking material could contain asbestos and vermiculite particles which are hazardous to inhale.

Of course, the report said one way to help prevent your family from inhaling the material, is to simply not go up in the attic and stir it up. However, there's no possible way to keep at least some of it from finding its way into the living quarters -- just like dust from the attic, it probably can enter your living space via electrical wall outlets, plumbing pipes, etc.

My home as well as a rental house, was built in 1958, and has that pinkish, blown-in fibre glass insulation which resembles fluffy fine straw or "cotton candy." I have never felt comfortable with it because not only does it harbor moisture, rodents, insects, dust and dirt and block the soffit vents, but it's probably a fire hazard because of all the electrical lines running through it. I would like to get rid of all of it, but it would probably cost a fortune.

I'm sure many other homeowners saw that Night Line segment, are duly concerned, and would appreciate any and all qualified comments regarding the seriousness of this issue.

Thanking you in advance ...

Now sleepless but not in Seattle
Old 11-05-05, 04:24 PM
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I have no idea if insulation does or does not contain asbestos, but I think that people are way too fearfull of the word asebestos. Yes, asbestos is not good for you but it is not as bad as the new media makes it out to be.

My father worked in a factor that processed the most hazardous form of the mineral and as a child I played in the factory. My fathers exposure is off the scale, and my exposure before the age of five was many times higher than most peoples lifetime exposure. Even the family dog received more than the maxium recommended exposure just by the dust brought home on clothing.

All of the doctors (yes, there have been many studies and yearly thorough lung exams...) seem to feel that the danger of asbestos has been greatly exagerated. Breathing asbestos dust/fibers is very much a bad thing, but most all of the doctors are of the impression that smoking is far more hazardous than asbestos exposure. Every doctor has guaranteed major problems if we combine smoking with asbestos exposure.

Everyone in our family remains healthy non-smokers 30+ years later.
Old 11-05-05, 06:30 PM
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Yes, I have seen news reports that highlight the discovery that Zonolite brand vermiculite insulation COULD be contaminated with asbestos.
This is actually not that new. It has been known for a few years but it only has recently surfaced as being newsworthy.

There are hazards with many materials.
Fibreglass is seen as being one of the safer types of insulation, however, if you were to go up into your attic, stir it up and breathe deeply for an extended period of time you could develop a serious lung condition.
Take a woodworking shop that does not have a proper dust collection system and work for many years in this environment and see what develops, health wise.

Having fibreglass is the one of the least hazardous materials you could possibly have.
Rodents are not caused by having fibreglass but rather allowing them access to it.
It is non flamable and does a good job of insulating.

There has been a highly publicized recent case in Manitoba, where a family residing in government provided housing has several family members that have all come down with an asbestos related type of cancer.
This a very unfortunate case but not all reports on this case reveal that the family had said that for many years they were finding Zonolite pellets all over the house.
Also, they had said that sometimes when someone slammed the door it would fall from the ceiling!
Again, a most unfortunate thing for this family to bear but one must wonder what state of maintenance would allow the material to fall from the ceiling.

In the case of your fibreglass you should consider yourself lucky.
In the case of people with Zonolite they should be aware of all the facts but I believe that the advice that undisturbed it is relatively harmless.

As a sidenote, I have 3 1/2" of Zonolite in my attic that I will most likely remove.
I had already planned to add fibreglass batts but by properly removing the Zonolite and replacing it with fibreglass I will be gaining R value plus being able to inspect the vapor barrier.
Be aware that this material must be removed by a licensed and/or insured company that deals with asbestos.

So, don't worry........ be happy.
Old 11-06-05, 08:13 AM
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Pilot Dane and GregH --

Thanks for your replies to my "mayday" call.

I feel less anxious and more at ease.

I'm convinced that report was somewhat over-hyped.

I think I'll relax and ...

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