Vermiculite Insulation and the Dangers of Exposure to Asbestos

Starting way back in the 1920s and running all the way through until the early 1990s, there was an insulation product that was used in homes and businesses across North America called vermiculite insulation. This type of insulation was being used in most homes and commercial buildings because of its fire resistant properties and superior insulation properties. The downside though is that vermiculite has the propensity to release asbestos fibers if it is heated or agitated.

How do I find out if the vermiculite insulation in my house contains asbestos?

You can have a sample of the insulation collected by our team at got mold?™ for testing. You should not do this yourself as it is important to have someone who is experienced in conducting asbestos hazard assessments to ensure property health and safety practices are followed.

What happens if the insulation does contain asbestos?

It has to be removed. This type of abatement is a high risk asbestos abatement that requires OH&S notice of project, which is 14 days’ minimum notice to OH&S before project commences. A third party consultant is required to provide daily air monitoring, containment pre-inspection, final visual clearance sampling, final air clearance sampling and final report as required by law for High risk asbestos abatement.

3 stage containment with temporary shower including HEPA negative air filtration must be set up to prevent any cross contamination during abatement. All vermiculite and insulation is to be double bagged in yellow asbestos bags, the bags are to be washed and removed through shower/chambers. After all ACM vermiculite is removed the entire containment must undergo a thorough final cleaning HEPA vacuuming/wet wiping followed by visual inspection by consultant. After visual is cleared, entire containment will be sprayed down with fiber lock asbestos glue before final air clearance testing commences and containment is fully cleared for demobilizing.

Should I be worried about my health if I have vermiculite insulation in my house?

As stated in a WorkSafe Bulletin, “Asbestos in vermiculite insulation is only a health hazard if the vermiculite is disturbed and the asbestos becomes airborne. There is no real risk if the vermiculite is sealed behind walls or isolated in an attic. However, inhalation of asbestos fibres can cause mesothelioma (a fatal cancer of the lining of the lungs or other organs), lung cancer, or asbestosis (a permanent scarring of the lungs that restricts breathing).”

Other Vermiculite Insulation Resources

Asbestos Sampling Advice from got mold?™

We receive lots of calls from people wondering if they can bring in a sample of material to check for asbestos.
To collect a quality sample,  several things must be taken into account:
  • First and foremost, don’t disturb the material any more than necessary and please wear a mask.
  • Asbestos forms “hot” and “cold” spots in insulation, or in other words, there are areas with high and low asbestos levels. To collect a good, representative sample, it is necessary  to take small portions of insulation from different spots and combine them into one sample.
  • Asbestos crystals are heavier than vermiculite flakes. With time, asbestos sinks closer to the bottom of the insulation layer. To ensure that your sample is unbiased, try to reach the bottom of the insulation layer and take your samples from there
  • The laboratory needs 20-40 g of vermiculite (about a size of a full coffee cup) for asbestos analysis.

When your sample is collected, please place the sample into a Ziploc bag and seal it tight. Wipe down the baggie with soap and water Place the sample bag into another bag for extra protection. Label each sample individually. After securing the sample, mail, courier or bring the sample to got mold? and we can save you 25% for your sampling service.

If you do not feel comfortable collecting your own sample we have trained professionals on-staff who can assist in collecting the materials needed to sample. This can save you from possible contamination and disrupting any materials in the home.

Recently OH&S has started giving out warnings that some asbestos is being found in buildings built in 1995 or even later. Have your home inspected before continuing any renovations or beginning any renovations.

To learn more about our Asbestos Testings & Sampling services click here. If you’d like to get in touch with us about having a sample tested or collected, fill out the form to the right.

Asbestosis causes and symptoms

Asbestosis is a harmful lung condition that is developed in people who have inhaled asbestos dust and fibres. When someone inhales the dust, the microscopic asbestos fibres settle in the lungs, where they may cause permanent lung damage as well as chronic breathing symptoms. The fibres aren’t able to release themselves from the organs inside as they are sharp tiny shards that stick to your lungs for a lifetime.

One of the unusual things about asbestosis is the long wait between asbestos exposure and the resulting illness. For many people they may have been exposed to it at one particular time in their lives or careers and were not diagnosed until 15-30 years later. It does not show up in any kind of test results immediately.

Once someone develops asbestosis, no cures are currently available. Breathing problems will get steadily worse, and in about 15% of people, severe shortness of breath and respiratory failure develop. For someone who smokes and has had asbestos exposure, there is a greatly increased chance of developing lung cancer. Symptoms may appear within 10 years of the initial exposure. OH&S has recommended testing in homes built up to the year 2000 now as asbestos is being found in buildings built even in the 1990’s.

Lung transplantation is the only way to manage end-stage asbestos lung disease, and most people who need it are not eligible candidates because of their advanced age or due to other medical problems.

Worsening in your breathing occurs as asbestosis progresses. Cough, sputum production, and wheezing are less common and are generally associated with smoking. You may display what is known as clubbing of the fingertips (they thicken and enlarge), or develop a blue colour under your nails and a bluish tinge around your mouth.

Even brief exposure to asbestos at some time in the past will dramatically increase the risk of developing lung cancer and malignant mesothelioma (a rare, fatal cancer of the lining of organs such as the lungs, abdomen, and chest).

Some research has also shown that asbestos causes an increased risk of developing cancers of the esophagus, stomach, intestines, and rectum. This may be related to the swallowing of asbestos fibres that were inhaled and then coughed up from the lungs. If you are a smoker who has been exposed to asbestos over the long term, your likelihood of developing lung cancer is greatly increased. It appears that there is a “dose-response relationship” between asbestos exposure, smoking, and lung cancer: the greater the exposure to both asbestos and cigarette smoke, the higher the risk of cancer. It’s already proven the health risks of smoking and the links to cancer but the chances increase 80% when exposed to asbestos. Researches at the University of Michigan believe that it is from tar build up in the lungs and holding the fibres in place, then coughing up the fibres to be spread throughout the body.

We can provide lab results within 24 hours

When customers call got mold? to have a mold or asbestos inspections and sampling, we take great pride in giving our customers fast and accurate reports so they can get the work done ASAP. The health of our customers is our number one priority and we want our customers to know that your health is important to us! We thrive on having happy and healthy customers that have healthy indoor air for their families or business. When you call got mold? our environmental professionals will assist you with the best coarse of action to take when it comes to the removal process, and what should happen with the contents surrounding the effected areas.

Sometimes circumstances require that results of sampling is an urgent matter. This is why we deal with only accredited laboratories that have microbiologists analyze the samples. If there are any questions or clarification is required we are in direct contact with the Principal Microbiologist Dr. Jackson Kung’u.

The basic problem with mold is that it can be hidden. Home inspectors are not mold remediation specialists and do not have the expertise required to identify potential mold issues. Home buyers are well advised to invest in both a home inspection and mold inspection before purchasing a home, particularly if there is any indication that there are potential moisture issues.
 (Buyer Beware! How Reliable is Your Home Inspection?)
Mold occurs normally in outdoor environments, serving as nature’s recycling center and breaking down the dead organic matter from animals or plants. Humans encounter mold and even inhale mold spores every day with no ill effects whatsoever. When mold occurs in an indoor environment, however, things change. Suddenly, mold and its accompanying spores (through which it reproduces) are encountered (and inhaled) in large concentrations. When you consider the job that mold is designed to do on organic matter, it becomes easy to see how it could become a serious health hazard. (No Shame In Mold)
Since mold can cause serious health and structural issues, and even negatively impact the health of your pets, then you should invest in a mold inspection and you may even want to consider a Thermal Imaging inspection as well.
A mold inspection is vitally important if you are planning to buy a home for three key reasons:
1. REAL ESTATE AGENTS DO NOT LIKE MOLD
Real estate agents know that the presence of mold can end a real estate transaction. Since legal requirements for disclosing mold problems is not universally mandatory, then it really is up to the seller to disclose such information. If this is not done, the buyer may never know a problem even exists.
2. MOLD REMEDIATION IS COSTLY
Mold remediation is the removal of mold from a home to make it safe and liveable. This process is costlybecause the materials contaminated with mold need to be removed. You can not simply spray mold with chemicals. The cost of remediation will depend on the area that is affected and the kind of materials. In addition, mold remediation specialists take special training and follow specific procedures to prevent mold from spreading. Their goal is not only to remove the mold, but to contain it and clean it.
3. HOME INSPECTORS ARE NOT MOLD EXPERTS
The problem with mold is that it can be hidden under baseboards, beneath carpet, and under a new paint job. Home inspectors will look for visual problems with the home, but may not necessarily be able to identify a mold problem. A credible home inspector may provide you with some warning signs that conditions exist to encourage mold growth:
1. Water stains
2.  Smelly basement
3.  Water seepage
4. Leaky roof
That being said, a home inspector will not verify the existence of mold and may not specify this in their report. It is also important to understand that many home inspectors rely on referals from real estate agents, which could cause potential conflict of interest issues.
According to CMHC and Health Canada:
“Asbestos poses health risks only when fibres are in the air that people breathe. Asbestos fibres lodge in the lungs, causing scarring that can ultimately lead to severely impaired lung function (asbestosis) and cancers of the lungs or lung cavity.”
If your home or commercial building was built prior to or during the 1980s, you may need to determine if you have asbestos and/or vermiculite insulation.
The environmental and financial risks associated with asbestos abatement requires expertise and commitment.
If you have asbestos, our professional teams will remove it.
To ensure “Peace of Mind”, we will ask a third party environmental consulting firm to take air quality samples that will be sent to an independent lab for analysis.
Our job will not be complete until the environmental consultant says that the property is fully cleared of the asbestos.
Further Reading about mold removal, health concerns and the inspection processes:
Flooded…But Denied Insurance? Don’t Lose Hope!Hurricane Sandy Causes Mold Risk for Flooded AreasSandy Leaves Behind the Threat of Asbestos Exposure, Flood Alert: Key Action Steps & Information!What Should I do if I Find Mold?Attention Saskatchewan Residents: PDAP Can Help!Don’t Spray Mold!What Causes a Basement to Smell Bad?Mold, Not Just a Health Problem, But a Structural One Too!Sewer Backups Part 1: Causes and PreventionSewer Backups Part 2: Action Steps Why Do We Need Sump Pumps? Flooded…But Denied Insurance? Don’t Lose Hope!What to Expect From a Mold InspectionMold Emerges As Problem From FloodingWhy is Mold a Growing Concern?Seven Tips To Detecting MoldMold in Your BasementDo You Know Where Your Water Main Valve Is Located?What to do when you’ve identified a mold concern?The Longer You Wait…The Worse It Gets!How Does Mold Get Indoors?What’s In Your Flood Water?What causes Mold growth?
Further Reading about asbestos removal, health concerns and the inspection processes:
Mandatory Saskatchewan Registry for Asbestos PassesWhy is Asbestos a Health Hazard?Can You Get Mesothelioma from Attending School?Why is a Shower Essential to Asbestos Abatement?What Percentage of Lung Cancers are Caused by Asbestos?Canadian Asbestos RegulationsHow Many People Die From Asbestos Each Year?10 Interesting Facts About Asbestos in the USA [Infographic]Renovating? Read This Message From Our President!10 Interesting Historical Facts About Asbestos [Infographic]ADAO – Asbestos Disease Awareness OrganizationBanAsbestos.usThe Asbestos Epidemic in America, WHO | Asbestos: elimination of asbestos-related diseasesThe Jig Is Up For The Asbestos Industry!Canada’s Asbestos Industry Could End!Elliot Lake, Ontario Residents Exposed to Asbestos DustShould I Be Concerned About Asbestos?The Politics of Asbestos: Canada’s Ugly SecretQuebec Pumps $58 Million into Certain DeathThe Asbestos Abatement ProcessWhy is Asbestos so Scary?Got Asbestos?Asbestos Removal and AbatementAsbestos Is The “Ideal Carcinogen”
 

Asbestos in the news issue #131

Asbestos in the news issue #131
At Got Mold? our goal is to keep our followers aware of asbestos related news stories. Each day, we scour the internet looking for relevant information. Here are just a few stories we thought may interest you!
Please share this information so that we can continue to increase awareness of asbestos and asbestos related illnesses. Follow us on twitter because we tweet asbestos news frequently.
In PDX, many homes demolished with asbestos inside – Contractors have been tearing down hundreds of Portland homes without properly removing the asbestos inside, a practice that ignores state regulations and could put workers at risk.

Federal parties, candidates respond to MV Miner questions – Only two of the four federal mainstream political parties addressed the issue of the MV Miner in letters to the Main-a-Dieu Community Development Association.

Five Companies Settle, One Left for Trial in Asbestos Case – Ford Motor Co., Honeywell International Inc. and three other companies settled with the estate of a Eustis woman who died of mesothelioma after alleged asbestos exposure. The last remaining defendant is preparing for a 10-day federal trial in Miami.

Suspected asbestos found at Humpty Dumps in Cirencester on land where homes are planned – Developer Baylight Properties has applied to build up to 69 homes on the Humpty Dumps, off Bowling Green Lane, and its contamination tests organised as part of the application, uncovered materials suspected to contain asbestos.

Asbestos confirmed at Quincy High School, Monday classes and activities cancelled – Quincy High School will be closed again on Monday following an evacuation Sept. 24 when asbestos was discovered in the roof of the former art building. “It’s asbestos,” said Peter Connell, the principal scientist for PFC Industrial Hygiene Consulting, principal of suspicious material removed from the roof and tested shortly after the evacuation around 6:00 p.m. “School will be closed on Monday as a precaution.”

WorkSafe inspector exposed to asbestos after botched demolition of Mr Fluffy home – The demolition of a Mr Fluffy house last month reportedly created large plumes of asbestos-contaminated dust, exposing a WorkSafe inspector to the deadly fibres. Residents who lived near the Torrens home were not told of the incident, though WorkSafe ACT and the ACT government were notified. The government said air-monitoring equipment on the property’s perimeter, set up and analysed by a licensed asbestos assessor, found no evidence that the deadly fibres had breached the site’s boundaries.

Serious concerns about Rochdale asbestos air monitoring – An email exchange could cast doubt on the nature of Rochdale Council’s “reassurance” testing of air around the former Turner Brothers Asbestos site in the Spodden Valley. Correspondence from Rochdale Council to a member of the public, Delwyn Bale of Dell Road, asks for his permission to have monitoring equipment installed in his garden – Mr Bale gave his permission immediately. Soon after, Mr Bale started to read archived Rochdale Online news articles about the issues regarding asbestos and the TBA site. As a result, he emailed some questions back to Rochdale Council. The official response and attitude openly expressed by Michael Moore, Senior Public Protection Officer, shocked Mr Bale.

MESOTHELIOMA VICTIMS CENTER NOW URGES FAMILY MEMBERS OF A DIAGNOSED US NAVY VETERAN TO NOT TAKE COMPENSATION FOR GRANTED–CALL FOR INSTANT ACCESS TO THE NATION’S MOST SKILLED LAWYERS – The Mesothelioma Victims Centre says, “What we’ve been seeing is family members looking online for information on mesothelioma for a father who has been recently diagnosed. What too many end up doing is contacting what we refer to as path-of-least-resistance mesothelioma law firms. These firms make claims such as, ‘no lawsuit needed’, ‘simply fill out a claims form’, or ‘we’ve helped millions of people.’

Clean-up of asbestos on WestConnex site in St Peters under scrutiny – Environmental lawyers have raised concerns about the state government’s management of a waste site at St Peters, which is planned to be converted into a motorway interchange. The WestConnex Delivery Authority acquired the former Dial-A-Dump site in December, and since August has been removing material from the site in trucks.

If you believe you have asbestos in your home and are planning renovations, contact a professional for an inspection and get testing! Contact us today for more details!