Asbestos and Vermiculite – a Double Whammy

A town in southwest Ontario just discovered a nasty surprise during the course of demolishing an old school — the double whammy of asbestos and vermiculite insulation.

During the demolition of the former Doverwood school in Port Dover, it was already known that asbestos was present. However, when the job began, workers discovered more than they bargained for in the form of 94 asbestos-containing pipe elbows and vermiculite insulation in 30 closets and the wall cavities of several classrooms. The cost of the demolition job just went up be several thousand dollars.

Vermiculite Insulation
Vermiculite is a material that you can find in potting soil, among other things. Geologically speaking, vermiculite is an aluminum-iron-magnesium silicate. It’s special property is that it expands a great deal and develops air pockets when it is heated, something like popcorn. It becomes lightweight and fireproof. Sounds like an ideal material for insulation.

The problem with vermiculite insulation is that most of the vermiculite that was used in North America comes from the Libby Mine in Montana, were the vermiculite deposits were laced with asbestos. Most of it was manufactured and sold under the name Zonolite® or Zonolite® Attic Insulation.

Rest assured, Zonolite hasn’t been on the market since about 1990. The material is not considered dangerous as long as it’s sealed up in your walls or attic, however, the health risks from direct exposure and inhaling the asbestos fibres are very real, including a host of respiratory issues and even deadly mesothelioma.

Take Action
If you have vermiculite insulation in your attic, your safest course of action is vermiculite removal. There are some additional protective measures you can take on your own.

  • Don’t store things in the attic, or go into the attic space for any reason. No amount of asbestos exposure is considered safe.
  • Seal all cracks in the ceilings, including caulking around light fixtures, electrical fixtures, and baseboards, to prevent any dust from seeping through below.
  • Caulk windows and door frames too, since attic insulation can fall down through the walls below.

You can trust the experienced asbestos and vermiculite removal experts and asbestos remediation 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.