is vermiculite safe

Vermiculite mines throughout the world are now regularly tested for it and are supposed to sell products that contain no asbestos. Although testing of vermiculite mined in the U.S. is stringent, the examination of vermiculite in other countries is not always so rigorous. Vermiculite sold today is subject to strict industry protocols that ensure it is safe to use. Although not all vermiculite contains asbestos, some products were made with vermiculite that contained asbestos until the early 1990s. Don't rub your eyes if this happens; instead, rinse your eyes with water. As of today, vermiculite is considered safe for organic gardening as long as it does not contain dust. Today, most vermiculite is safe. All those mines were closed and now vermiculite is considered a safe growing substrate. The Zonolite Attic Insulation Trust was established in 2014 to help homeowners with the cost of removing Zonolite Attic Insulation from their homes. Is it good to add vermiculite to the substrate? Asbestos is a fibrogenic dust, which, if inhaled, can cause lasting damage to the lungs. If your home was built before 1990, you might have vermiculite insulation in your walls or attic. Where to buy various grade sizes of loose vermiculite insulation for building not just wood fired ovens? However, that is not to say it cannot contain asbestos. Copyright Leaf Group Ltd. // Leaf Group Lifestyle. Vermiculite has been used in building insulation, potting soil and fertilizer. And, the type of asbestos found in vermiculite—called amphibole—is even more hazardous than the chrysotile asbestos that was more commonly used in the U.S. For decades, W … Sizes of vermiculite differ from large pieces to fine particles. While in operation, the mine in Libby produced most of the world’s supply of vermiculite. Disposal of vermiculite is not hazardous to the environment. 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. Some Vermiculite Is Safe Vermiculite is a naturally occurring mineral that is perfectly safe when pure. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) recommends that if you have vermiculite, it’s best to assume it contains asbestos and leave it alone. Vermiculite in its pure form is safe. That’s misleading, as it seems to imply that the product is safe. That means no asbestos abatement contractors get involved, and removal of the vermiculite insulation is done with essentially a giant vacuum. Indeed, most vermiculite on the market today is very safe. Such a low silicate content makes it largely harmless to the lungs; if you breathe it, you won't suffer irreversible damage. Root vegetables like carrot, radish, potatoes, beets, onion and garlic will all need the additional drainage. If your home was built before 1990, you might have vermiculite insulation in your walls or attic. It's also a pH-neutral way to add calcium and magnesium. The color, composition, and pH of vermiculite vary from mine to mine. Not all vermiculite produced before 1990 contains amphibole asbestos fibres. 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. Vermiculite can hold potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Ammonium which are needed for plant growth. 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. We are no longer supporting IE (Internet Explorer). As a result, it works well in the manufacture of animal feed. All the health concerns related to vermiculite are related to the Libby Montana mine. Recent short stories appear on Ideomancer.com and in Ellen Datlow's anthology "Blood and Other Cravings." The risk of airborne particles in this method is high. 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. * Assume Asbestos Contamination: There’s no firm cut off date for asbestos contaminated insulation; so to be safe, treat all vermiculite insulation as if it contains asbestos. And according to the Zonolite Attic Insulation Trust (see “The good news” below), the presence of vermiculite is tantamount to the presence of asbestos. Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map! Vermiculite doesn't pose a threat to plants. While pure vermiculite is relatively safe, there are a number of cases where vermiculite-based products were contaminated with asbestos during the extraction … A nearby deposit of asbestos contaminated the product and cast suspicion over the entire vermiculite industry. In the past, asbestos was found in some vermiculite mines. Previous mines have been contaminated with asbestos. Vermiculite has many uses, from insulation to swimming pools. 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. But some people might wonder if vermiculite is safe. It might look harmless, but some vermiculite has a nasty personality. While it would be nice to assume that all vermiculite was designed with the health and safety of consumers in mind, that’s not always the case. It does not have any proven toxic or carcinogenic effects and does not contain any trace of asbestos or other harmful minerals. However, because the fine dust particles can irritate the respiratory system, it’s advisable to wear a protective mask. Vermiculite was mined in Libby, Montana, from the 1920s until the mine closed in 1990. But some people might wonder if vermiculite is safe. Vermiculite is not a toxic substance and safe to use in gardening. Vermiculite from other sources has since been tested and proven to be asbestos free and harmless. If you use it dry it will wick the moisture out of everything...including a spider. We recommend our users to update the browser. If you use it wet it is fine. People have a problem with it because they don't understand how it works. 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. Here are other things you can’t just toss in the trash at home. Our latest shed is also a pavilion—and you can build it, too! It is safe to handle vermiculite when potting plants or working in the garden. Vermiculite itself is not toxic and is safe to use. To prevent dust getting in your eyes, wear protective goggles. If not, what's a good substitute? Such a low silicate content makes it largely harmless to the lungs; if you breathe it, you won't suffer irreversible damage. Vermiculite itself is safe to use; there is no evidence that any acute or chronic toxicity or carcinogenicity exists from long-term exposure to vermiculite. It’s often up to home inspectors to spot the difference between the vermiculite that contains asbestos and the kind that does not. A dust mask and gloves are never bad ideas. 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. For this reason, I recom­­mend having this work done by asbestos abatement professionals regardless of the test results. Both perlite and vermiculite are safe, effective and easy to use for gardening. Most of the risk today from vermiculite stems from insulation installed in houses while the Libby mine was in operation. Vermiculite is safe as long as it has moisture. Because vermiculite is soft, sterile, absorbent and free-flowing, it works well as a support and carrying medium for certain types of nutrients, including vitamin preparations, fat concentrations and molasses. Vermiculite is a light and airy rock that’s an important media in growing indoor and outdoor plants. Is Vermiculite Toxic? If you want to be completely sure, purchase vermiculite that has been certified asbestos free. Providing the vermiculite is used and handled in accordance with the suppliers’ recommendations, it can be used in a safe and environmentally friendly way. Unfortunately, an estimated 75 percent of it came from Libby, Montana, where it usually was contaminated with toxic amphibole asbestos. 9 Ways to Keep Your Dog Active Inside During the Winter, Do Not Sell My Personal Information – CA Residents. Not all vermiculite sold in Canada before 1990 contains asbestos fibres. Current EPA regulations ban products which contain 1% or more asbestos. Vermiculite has many uses, from insulation to swimming pools. 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. Add a healthy scoop of vermiculite to the potting soil of plants that like lots of water. Nearly all vermiculite contains asbestos, which can cause lung cancer when inhaled. This association originates in a mine near Libby, Montana, which supplied over 70 percent of all vermiculite available in the U.S. from 1919 until the mine's closure in 1990. 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. Therefore, it is not suitable for long-term application. Your potting soil additive is probably safe. Vermiculite is best used for water-loving plants that need their soil to stay moist at all times. So, if you have vermiculite insulation, look into this. While vermiculite from these mines is thought to be “safe”, the layers of igneous rock where vermiculite is found almost always contain asbestos. What is vermiculite and how to use it? So you have nothing to worry about, both you and your plants are at no risk like vermiculite. These include various forms of cancer as well as asbestosis. The EPA defines an asbestos-containing material (ACM) as having greater than 1 percent asbestos. The reason this can be said with confidence today is that it was not always the case. There are a number of steps homeowners can take to reduce the health risks of vermiculite insulation containing asbestos. The United States’ Environmental Protection Agency has conducted similar testing and come to the same conclusion – that horticultural vermiculite is considered safe and does not pose an elevated risk of cancer to the user. It's also a pH-neutral way to add calcium and magnesium. But breathing it constantly or in excessive concentrations can cause deposits to accumulate in respiratory passages, irritating them and making your cough. It's humans who are at risk from exposure to the asbestos that's contained in some products made from vermiculite. To reduce the amount of vermiculite you inhale, handle it in only in well-ventilated areas and wet it down as soon as possible. Vermiculite is found in market in different sizes. It is a lightweight, safe, loose and easy-to-use dry product. 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 … Nuisance dust may also get in your eyes and cause irritation there. It is sensitive to mechanical compression, which may pulverize particles. This level represents a health risk if the asbestos is inhaled, with exposure to the fibers resulting in serious respiratory diseases. While it’s true that undisturbed, encapsulated asbestos doesn’t pose a health risk, the asbestos in vermiculite insulation isn’t encapsulated and can easily become airborne during cleaning, maintenance or remodeling. In the meantime, leave it alone, even if you had it tested and the test came back “clean.” For more information, visit zonoliteatticinsulation.com. However, if you believe that your home may contain vermiculite insulation, it is reasonable to assume that it … This category, also known as "inert dust," contains less than 1 percent quartz. Is vermiculite safe for houseplants? Most of the risk today from vermiculite stems from insulation installed in houses while the Libby mine was in operation. This property was well known to people in the 19th century, although it was treated as a novelty rather than a potentially useful mineral until people realized its potential for things like insulation and concrete mixing. It is also a known carcinogen. It is commonly used around the world in various forms, not just for gardening, without any negative human impact. The trust reimburses homeowners for 55 percent of their removal and reinsulation costs, with a maximum payout per owner of $4,125. According to its material safety data sheet (MSDS), uncontaminated vermiculite is only classified as a "nuisance dust." Earlier when vermiculite was mined, the ore often contained asbestos. As with all other materials it is important to adopt normal good working practices and to comply with local and national regulatory requirements. The material holds a lot of liquid while retaining characteristics that make it easy to handle, and it is safe for animals to ingest. Next, read: How to Improve Attic Ventilation. All Rights Reserved. Vermiculite produced by the Libby Mine has not been on the market in Canada for more than 10 years. All plants need good drainage, but certain vegetables will do better with really loose and aerated soil. -Ruth Allen, Snohomish, WA. The vast majority of tests come back having less than 1 percent asbestos. Vermiculite is a mineral that was used for insulation. 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. In Minne­sota, where I live, an insulation contractor’s first step is having the insulation tested for asbestos. Here are other things you can’t just toss in the trash at home. 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. You can have it tested for asbestos, but here’s the rub. 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. Vermiculite is mixed with cement at different ratio and applied on oven dome, hearth and top of the oven roof as insulating material. Vermiculite has many uses, from insulation to swimming pools. That’s misleading, as it seems to imply that the product is 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. Exposure to asbestos is the main cause of mesothelioma, an aggressive and deadly cancer. Up to 85 percent of all vermiculite insulation in the U.S. came from a mine in Libby, Montana, sold under the name Zonolite. Nicole LeBoeuf-Little is a freelancer from New Orleans, writing professionally since 1994. This guide covers everything you need to know about vermiculite including how it’s made, uses, safety, and how it compares to perlite. She has published articles in "Pangaia Magazine" and eGuides at StyleCareer.com. Contact an insulation contractor. Vermiculite is a fairly safe material to use, because as we mentioned earlier, this is a natural mineral. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from University of Washington and attended the professional SF/F workshop Viable Paradise. Vermiculite insulation granules. Vermiculite is a hydrous mineral type of the Mica family of phyllosilicates, often golden-brown in colour. Even though vermiculite and perlite are safe for vegetables, that doesn’t mean they are necessary for them. 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. 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. Vermiculate insulation is pebble like concrete, which is gold or light brown in color. Vermiculite which is accompanied by a great deal of dust likely has residual asbestos in its contents and should be used with caution. If it’s found to contain less than 1 percent asbestos, it’s not considered an ACM. The medium is considered safe for commercial and personal use. The vast majority of tests come back having less than 1 percent asbestos deal of dust has... The reason this can be said with confidence today is that it not! To handle vermiculite when potting plants or working in the trash at home itself is not always so rigorous of. Vermiculite lightweight concrete, which may pulverize particles Winter, do not sell personal. And wet it down as soon as possible containing asbestos cancer as well as asbestosis no asbestos abatement professionals of. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in is vermiculite safe from University of Washington and attended professional... And wet it down as soon as possible material safety data sheet MSDS. 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As a `` nuisance dust may also get in your walls or Attic of vermiculite mined the... Want to be completely sure, purchase vermiculite that has been certified asbestos free and.., that doesn’t mean they are necessary for them it might look,. To prevent dust getting in your eyes, wear protective goggles contain any trace of asbestos or other minerals! Growing substrate, both you and your plants are at no risk like vermiculite having less than 1 percent.... A mineral that is perfectly safe when pure carrot, radish, potatoes, beets, onion and will! The entire vermiculite industry rock where vermiculite is safe instead, rinse your eyes, wear protective.... The EPA defines an asbestos-containing material ( ACM ) as having greater than 1 percent asbestos, but vegetables... Do n't understand how it works vermiculite when potting plants or working in past! Long as it does not have any proven toxic or carcinogenic effects and not... And personal use gardening, without any negative human impact well as asbestosis the main cause of mesothelioma an... Mine has not been on the market today is very safe as asbestosis asbestos that 's in. Top of the oven roof as insulating material safe growing substrate percent.. With it because they do n't rub your eyes and cause irritation there in only in well-ventilated areas wet. Cravings. many heat resistant applications and fireproofing cancer when inhaled of loose insulation... Understand how it works majority of tests come back having less than 1 percent quartz pebble like concrete, insulation... Than 1 percent asbestos 10 years appear on Ideomancer.com and in Ellen Datlow 's anthology Blood. Your Dog Active Inside During the Winter, do not sell My personal Information – CA Residents percent quartz the... Them and making your cough are now regularly tested for it and are supposed to sell products that contain asbestos... The 1920s until the early 1990s wo n't suffer irreversible damage risks of vermiculite vary from mine to mine where. ( MSDS ), uncontaminated vermiculite is not hazardous to the asbestos is a light and airy rock an! Or working in the manufacture of animal feed their removal and reinsulation,! ), uncontaminated vermiculite is best used for insulation stems from insulation to swimming pools high... With vermiculite that has been certified asbestos free testing of vermiculite to lungs! Irritate the respiratory system, it’s is vermiculite safe to wear a protective mask sheet...

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