Tragic Death of Asbestos Advocate Reminds of Vermiculite Dangers

As 2015 came to a close, headlines across the country brought the news of the tragic passing of Raven ThunderSky, an asbestos advocate.

Buildings in the First Nations reservation she grew up on in Manitoba were insulated with vermiculite that was contaminated with asbestos. ThunderSky had already lost several relatives to asbestos-related disease.

Zonolite – the brand of insulation in question – was used by the federal government for First Nations and military properties, leaving scores of people exposed to the deadly mineral. Ms ThunderSky was 50 years old when she succumbed to mesothelioma.

Vermiculite Insulation
The sad story illustrates the very real consequences that can come from asbestos exposure and vermiculite insulation is one of the major sources.

Vermiculite by itself is not a toxic material in any way and is often used by gardeners and others as part of a soil mix for plants. The problem is that most of the vermiculite insulation sold in North America came from the now infamous mine in Libby, Montana – where the deposits of vermiculite were found to be laced with deadly asbestos.

Vermiculite was used for insulation because it is a material that will expand as it heats up. That makes it good fill material. It is brown and/or grey and resembles pepples.

Vermiculite Insulation in Your Home?
It was widely used for residential and commercial insulation, particularly in attics because you can easily spray it into oddly shaped spaces and it tends to settle downwards.

Vermiculite insulation was widely used until the 1970’s, only gradually phased out after 1989 and not entirely banned until December 2003 in Canada. That means if your home is more than 13 years old, there is a chance it may still contain contaminated vermiculite insulation.

  • Important: If you open the walls for renovations, home alarm or home theatre installation, and you encounter any such substance, please do not investigate further.
  • You likely won’t be able to tell just by looking at it whether it contains asbestos unless you are an expert and even then the differences can be subtle.
  • It is dangerous when disturbed and the fibres can be inhaled – containment is essential. Seal up the area as best you can and please call us right away to help you take care of this health hazard.

When it comes to asbestos, the material is considered safe when intact. However, asbestos used in older homes is already decades old and the other materials often mixed with it – such as concrete – are prone to deterioration at this point.

If you have a problem with mould or asbestos in your home, you can trust the experienced mould removal technicians and asbestos removal experts at GreenStream Environmental to take care of the issue for you.

In the Toronto area contact GreenStreamEnvironmental.ca at (416) 818-9414. Contact us for a quote today.

Featured in Mike Holmes’ magazine, HGTV’s Income Properties, W Network’s Love It Or List It and chosen by Homestars.com as “Best Toronto Asbestos Removal Company” based on customer ratings and reviews, GreenStream Environmental Services are fully-certified, trusted and insured professionals in the removal and disposal of commercial, industrial, institutional and residential asbestos, vermiculite and mould (hazardous and non-hazardous). Providing emergency service 24/7/365 for all of Toronto and the GTA (North York, Mississauga, Markham, Brampton, Scarborough, Ajax, Oshawa, and beyond) GreenStream has over 40 combined years of experience serving clients such as the City of Toronto, the Toronto District School Board and many more. For a free estimate in Toronto, the GTA and Southern Ontario, call today at 416-818-9414. You’ll be glad you did.