WHAT IS VERMICULITE & WHERE TO FIND IT | HazForce

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WHAT IS VERMICULITE & WHERE TO FIND IT

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Where can vermiculite be found?

Vermiculite is a known asbestos-containing and naturally occurring mineral that was used as a building material for its insulative and fire-retardant properties. It was predominantly used from 1950 through to 1970. Exposure to vermiculite can cause several types of life-threatening diseases, including lung cancer.

What is vermiculite?

IVermiculite is a known asbestos containing and naturally occurring mineral that was used as a building material for its insulative and fire-retardant properties.

Where is vermiculite most likely to be found?

Property owners will most likely find vermiculite:

  • between ceiling joists in the attic
  • in wall cavities
  • in cinder block

Vermiculite insulation in the attic space may or may not be covered with layers of cellulose, fiberglass blown-in or fiberglass batt insulation.

When was vermiculite used?

Vermiculite insulation was predominantly used from the 1950-1970s in structures to increase energy efficiency and interior comfort levels. Under a government program in Canada allowing grants to homeowners to increase insulation levels, it was one of the insulating materials approved to reduce energy consumption. As a result of this program, vermiculite was used in homes built prior to the 1950s and after the 1970s.

Commercially, vermiculite has been used in multiple industries since the 1920s in various applications.

What is the risk of vermiculite?

Vermiculite itself does not contain asbestos, however, asbestos formed under the same geological conditions and is considered a contaminant of vermiculite.

Asbestos minerals tend to separate into microscopic particles that become airborne and are easily inhaled. Workers exposed to asbestos in the workplace have developed several types of life-threatening diseases, including lung cancer.

Like any hazard, length, intensity and frequency of exposure are major factors in the risk of asbestos-related respiratory illness. WorkSafeBC has set out very specific regulations regarding exposure potential for workers who may be exposed to asbestos.

For a property owner, it is best not to disturb vermiculite as this may release asbestos fibers into the air, and the risk of exposure increases with the amount of time spent in your attic. If the attic or walls of a house contain vermiculite insulation, leave it alone. Avoid disturbing the material. Do not sweep it or vacuum it up. Do not store belongings, or allow anyone to perform work in your attic, such as installing pot lights in a room below the attic.

How to minimize the risk of exposure to vermiculite?

To prevent health problems, WorkSafeBC has developed requirements detailed in the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations that Hazardous Material Abatement Contractors must adhere to when conducting removal and disposal of Asbestos Containing Materials such as vermiculite.

"Like any hazard, length, intensity and frequency of exposure are major factors in the risk of asbestos-related respiratory illness."

Jon Sperber

Operations Manager

250-510-4757 | jon@hazforce.ca

A deeper dive.

Graduated from the University of British Columbia in Civil Engineering, Jon is a certified AHERA Building Inspector with years of experience working with hazardous material abatement of asbestos, lead, mould, and biohazards. His efforts are focused on residential, industrial, commercial, institutional (ICI) and Demolition projects.