Christmas is the time when people thrive on continuing family traditions. From Mom’s incredible gravy method to the star on the tree that’s been handed down for three generations, it’s a time to include the past in today’s celebrations. When it comes to those Christmas ornaments, however, there are a couple of things you should consider.
What’s in the Attic?
If yours is an older home, you may just be storing your seasonal ornaments in the attic. That can be a problem if your home was insulated with vermiculite. Vermiculite is a natural mineral that was used for home insulation for most of the 20th century. The majority of the vermiculite used in insulation in North America comes from a Montana site that was heavily mined from the 1920’s until the 1990’s. By itself, vermiculite isn’t a known health risk; the problem is that the Montana site was contaminated with asbestos.
Even if other types of insulation were used in your home, it may also contain vermiculite, which was commonly marketed as a do-it-yourself project. Many homeowners went into the attic themselves to pour it down into the walls in order to bolster the effect of existing foam or other insulation.
Whatever you’re storing in an attic with vermiculite insulation could be covered in asbestos dust. It’s a particular concern when it comes to Christmas ornaments in that children are often the ones to handle and play with them, and children are also the most vulnerable to the health effects that come from asbestos exposure.
A lesser risk comes from very old Christmas balls, wreaths and other ornaments with fake snow. It may seem shocking today, but asbestos flakes were often used as decorative artificial snow and many early 20th century ornaments include that substance. Even now, after decades, they may contain small amounts of asbestos.
They may have sentimental value, but you’re probably better off setting aside older Christmas ornaments in favour of newer and safer materials.
Did you know?
There’s a scene in the classic film The Wizard of Oz where Judy Garland as Dorothy, along with Toto and her other traveling companions are put to sleep by a spell cast by the Wicked Witch of the West. They’re awakened by a snowfall – and in the film that snowfall was made up entirely of flakes of white asbestos that covered the whole cast and set.
Vermiculite insulation, which was most often sold under the name ‘Zonolite® Attic Insulation’, is brown or greyish and pebbly in texture. If you see it in your attic or elsewhere in your home, and before any renovation projects, please DO NOT disturb it. The danger from asbestos comes from inhaling the fibres, and anything you can do to contain or avoid it until you can call in the experts from GreenStream Environmental Services will help to minimize the impact.
At GreenStream Environmental Services, we offer professional vermiculite and asbestos remediation services to help you contain and then rid yourself of this problem.
In the Toronto area contact GreenStreamEnvironmental.ca at (416) 818-9414.
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.
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