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Augh!! Is this vermiculite/asbestos?

JessicaFallible's Avatar

Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 3

08-09-12, 04:50 PM   #1  
Augh!! Is this vermiculite/asbestos?

Hello there!

I hope I'm posting in the right place. Sorry if not!

I'm slated to move into an attic relatively soon. It's sketchy, which is fine, but I didn't notice until today something that is probably be too sketchy for even me: possible vermiculite/asbestos. There are some gaps in the attic floor that are exposed, and I hadn't previously seen these little rock things, but they look like asbestos to me.

They're shiny and about an inch cubed, in general. I have some crappy photos taken with my phone (don't worry, I took care not to disturb anything).

So...time to find a new place to live?


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chandler's Avatar
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08-09-12, 05:40 PM   #2  
Jessica, welcome to the forums! Do you know when the house was built? About? If the floor boards have gaps big enough for you to take these pictures, I would be little wary of the over all comfort you can expect. Others who have dealt with vermiculite will chime in here soon, so stay tuned. It wasn't used very much in the South, so I have not had contact with it.

JessicaFallible's Avatar

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08-09-12, 06:16 PM   #3  
Thanks, Chandler. The gaps aren't all over, but there a couple holes that I thought I'd try to cover, which is where I took the photo. There are enough gaps in the floorboards, though, that they don't exactly seal away whatever's under them.

I'm not sure when the house was built. It's a "heritage house" in Vancouver, BC. I looked around at some house listings in the area, and they tended to be built in the 70s or earlier.

Concretemasonry's Avatar

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08-09-12, 06:53 PM   #5  
Probably vermiculite. The vermiculite that contained asbestos only came from one mine. It is estimated that 11% of all vermiculite contains asbestos. Asbestos is only dangerous/hazardous when it is fine enough to be resperable (able to be inhaled) and solid pieces of vermiculite are not dangerous unless crushed and disturbed and the vermiculite happens to contain some asbestos. Asbestos in a siding and tiles is not considered hazardous until it is made friable and is circulated.


XSleeper's Avatar
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08-09-12, 08:19 PM   #6  
As the others have said, yes it is vermiculite, and it "could" contain asbestos if it came from the one mine that had those traces, located near Libby, MT if I recall. Only way to know for sure is to send a sample in for testing. Don't freak out over what is probably nothing. Have it tested so you can quit worrying and move on.

GregH's Avatar
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08-10-12, 05:00 AM   #7  
The picture is not clear enough to be certain but it does appear to be vermiculite.

The generally accepted position on whether vermiculite could be contaminated with asbestos is that the majority of vermiculite produced at Libby mine was contaminated with asbestos and that mine produced 90% of the worlds supply which is why the trade name Zonolite it attached to the contaminated product.
If what you have is vermiculite, until you have it tested you should assume it is contaminated.

The exposure hazard is virtually non-existent when it is installed in a properly sealed attic or wall cavity.
If you are proposing to live in the space where there is exposed vermiculite and based on the assumption it is contaminated you would be at risk of asbestos exposure.

The Health Canada website has a lot of good info on this.

If you are not in a position to get this material tested a better picture, preferably with a digital camera set to macro might help us with a better look.

GregH.........HVAC/R Tech

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