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dec 29

is vermiculite safe

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

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