We have been removing asbestos for over 11 years and vermiculite has continued to grow as an asbestos issue. We have climbed into many attics all over Ohio and I wanted to share what we have learned and help out as much as possible.
If you want to learn more general information about asbestos you can visit our FAQ page. Below are some pictures of vermiculite from the US EPA website.
What is vermiculite?
Vermiculite is a loose fill insulation used mostly in attics and sometimes in walls. A particular brand of vermiculite was mined in Libby Montana by W.R. Grace. For several years, it was used as insulation in residential and industrial applications. Several years later, after it was installed in thousands of attics, it was found to contain naturally occurring asbestos. Now many homeowners are faced with the question of what to do.
To sample or not to sample?
We say “don’t sample“. Why? Well there are some fancy ways to sample vermiculite and some traditional methods but it is difficult at this point to tell which method is the best. Some reports will tell you that you have less than 1% asbestos content (not regulated by EPA) and that is nice but it is also like being a little pregnant.
If you have asbestos in your vermiculite, at any percentage, then you have asbestos. There is no safe level of asbestos in a material; there are only safe standards for how many fibers that can be in air.
For example, if you had less than 1% asbestos content in the vermiculite and your friend uses a leaf blower in your attic to dust, this would create a major exposure. Ok, that example is a little extreme but if you disturb the material it will become airborne. You may feel better because it was less than 1% but that doesn’t guarantee the fibers will not get into the air. So the only safe bet is to assume there is asbestos and treat it accordingly.
To remove or not to remove?
I believe itdepends on what you are doing now and what you have planned in the future. If you have vermiculite in the attic and you do not use the attic for storage or go into the attic, then leave it undisturbed. Chances are unlikely that you will have an exposure above the Permissible Exposure Limit, PEL. But, if you try to sell that home, the home inspector may discover it and you may have to remove it. It iis our experience that any environmental issue can complicate a real estate deal. If you plan on renovating the space and the renovation process may disturb the material; then you need to abate the hazard prior to construction.
What if you store stuff in the attic but do not go up there that often? This is the most difficult question, because I cannot answer this one; only you can. You have to decide what your own personal level of concern is with respect to asbestos exposure. We cannot say how much asbestos is ok to breathe. OSHA was kind enough to set the PEL at 0.1 fibers per cubic centimeter but even that is set for an 8-hour work day not based on living in the home.
How much does this cost?
This is a difficult question-unless we can see your attic, access, and the amount of personal belongings stored there. Typically, the low end is approximately $4,000.00 and on the high end $20,000.00. We do understand, that is a big variance. Email us some pictures, rough dimensions, and a picture of the access or description (for example do you have fold down stairs, access from the garage, or is it going to take quite a bit of prep to access the attic?). You can email us from our Contacts Page. We will access a ball park estimate and if you are still interested we will discuss the next step, which would be a site visit and a formal written proposal.
Zonolite Trust aka ZAI trust.
A trust has been formed by WR Grace to help pay for abatement of vermiculite but there are some tasks for you to complete in order to receive the money. You will need to fill out some paperwork and submit a sample or proof that the vermiculite in the attic is their product. To clarify, only the folks at the trust can decide if you are eligible for compensation so sending a sample to a lab will not help your get compensation. I have confirmed that one client did receive compensation after submitting all of the samples and correct documentation. I have a link at the end of this post where you can check out their website for more information.
How we do it.
We have invested in the safest, cleanest, and most efficient solution to vermiculite and we call it, a vermiculite eating machine. We set your attic up as a containment with negative air pressure so what happens up there either stays up there or is filtered out. We mobilize an enclosed trailer safely outside your home and pull a 100 foot hose into your attic though an attic vent, vacuum the material out though the hose. This eliminates the need to bag the material and carry it through your home.
If you want the safest, cleanest, and most efficient removal of your vermiculite give us a call 330.818.0188.