Advice about vermiculite

What is it? Vermiculite is a granular material used as a loose fill insulation in homes. It was most prevalent in homes built during the 1950s and 1960s and is usually found in the attic. It was marketed under the brand name of Zonalite.

What are the concerns? It was found that some vermiculite, specifically from Libby Montana and a mine in Virginia, was heavily contaminated with asbestos. Asbestos that becomes airborne is a health hazard. However, not all vermiculite contains asbestos.

What should I do? Removal of vermiculite is recommended. If you are about to list your home, the presence of vermiculite may, and probably will, deter buyers. If it’s found in a home you intend to buy, have it removed before the deal is finalised simply because it may still be a potential health hazard and will pose a difficulty on re-sale. Typical remediation is under $20,000.

What should a Home Inspector do? A Home inspector is required to notify you of the presence of vermiculite and of the potential health risks. Best practice is to recommend further evaluation by a specialist to verify the presence of asbestos or not. Home inspectors are not usually certified to conduct asbestos testing of vermiculite as this requires specialist knowledge, training and equipment.