"Vermiculite' In Your Attic?

By
Home Inspector with H.I.S. Home Inspections (Summit, Stark Counties)

I ran across this yesterday while doing a home inspection. It was the first time in a few years that I have seen "vermiculite" in an attic. Vermiculite is a substance that has been mined, predominately from Libby, Montanna and distributed by a company called "W.R. Grace".

It was widely used for insulation, among many other uses starting in the 1940's and 50's.

In 1991, the EPA issued health warnings about the substance, because it is believed that much of it mined from the Libby site contained asbestos, or asbestos dust.  

Many of the miners that worked there fell ill and/or died from the dust inhalation. There was (and still is) a large class action suit against the company, who filed bankruptcy because of it. ( I do not know the outcome or dispensation of the original law suit.) However, I did also happen to see an ad on TV 2 days ago, someone - I think a law firm- telling people who have vermiculite in their attics to contact them about the class action because they are owed money. I wish I had paid more attention to the ad, because now I can't seem to find any more info on it. If anyone has any more info on this, I would appreciate it if you let me know.

The EPA advises people to "not disturb' the vermiculite so as not to stir up dust, and not store anything around it, or let children play near it.

The problem is this house, and most other like it that have this in the attic, are very deficient in insulation value. If you are not supposed to disturb it, or remove it, then how do you ever upgrade the insulation? I hesitate to recommend adding insulation over a potentially hazardous substance. Does anyone have any suggestions? Have you had any experience with this?

You are invited to Join the Home Inspector's Corner group , and see what home inspectors are blogging about. Home Inspector's Corner

Kevin's Blog

close

This entry hasn't been re-blogged:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
Location:
Ohio Stark County Canton
Groups:
RealtorsĀ®
RE/MAX Active Rain Bloggers
Home Inspectors across the country
Home Inspector's Corner
Professional Home Inspectors
Tags:
home inspector
canton
ashi
building inspection
akron
home inspection
ne ohio
cuyahoga falls
n canton

Post a Comment
Spam prevention
Spam prevention
Show All Comments
Rainer
64,171
Amy Salisbury
Leading Edge Properties - Charles Town, WV
West Virginia Realtor/Jefferson/Berkeley

Kevin,

I saw a commercial about this product a few days ago too, but can't recall the website info.  Maybe if you Google "vermiculite," something will turn up.

Amy

Jul 31, 2008 05:31 AM #1
Rainmaker
67,128
Kevin Corsa
H.I.S. Home Inspections (Summit, Stark Counties) - Canton, OH
H.I.S. Home Inspections, Stark & Summit County, OH Home Inspector

Yes, Amy - I did, and got a lot of info, but nothing specifically about the new lawsuit, or the supposed money payout from a company that is supposed to be bankrupt.

Jul 31, 2008 05:34 AM #2
Rainer
64,171
Amy Salisbury
Leading Edge Properties - Charles Town, WV
West Virginia Realtor/Jefferson/Berkeley

Well, let's just keep our eyes open for that commercial again, huh? LOL

Amy

Jul 31, 2008 05:44 AM #3
Ambassador
1,334,262
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Kevin, in our area there are companies trained and approved to remove the stuff----expesive, but not too bad in terms of the total value of the home----just something that needs to be factored into the sale in my opinion.  Nobody wants to spend money on clean-up of this stuff----but someone has to do it.  I have seen numbers from 5-20,000 dollars for clean-up.  I have seen people spend more on landscaping and driveways and swimming pools:)  Cleaning it up will return the home to its proper value quicker than any of those things.  I have seen stuff about the law suit as well.  I will see if I can dig it up for you.

Jul 31, 2008 06:01 AM #4
Ambassador
1,334,262
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Kevin, also, no discussion about asbestos is going to be very complete without paying attention to Caoimhin Connell

Jul 31, 2008 06:56 AM #5
Rainmaker
1,244,581
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

Kevin,

If you rarely see it you are lucky. I see it fairly often in older houses and some people, even knowing the EPA stance, freak over it. Others do not seem to care. Charlie already told you how we deal with it.

Jul 31, 2008 08:44 AM #6
Ambassador
2,758,551
TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc.
Complete Home Inspections, Inc. - Brentwood, TN
Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029

Kevin, Thanks for the heads-up on vermiculite. I do see it from time-to-time here in houses in this area. How the heck are you to report this or are you?

Jul 31, 2008 09:12 PM #7
Rainer
350,670
* Rate A Home
Rate A Home - Saugatuck, MI

Kevin, surprises me that they would recommend leaving it in the attic, not sure I would want it in my home.

Aug 01, 2008 01:55 AM #8
Rainmaker
1,244,581
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

The latest EPA statements, and I have talked to a lab about this, is that the asbestos is a "contaminant" therefore it might not be detected in a normal, and affordable, lab test. So the rule is...if it is vermiculite you should assume there is asbestos in it. I suppose that might not apply if you could find out for sure that it was produced after they knew about the problem. I only see it in older homes. We do have a lab nearby, that the state recommends. He suggests that several samples be taken from different areas. He can give you a good idea if it is contaminated or not, but will not make a blanket statement that it is clean. However, from what I understand, your cleanup if you remove it might be less restrictive if the lab can find no sign of asbestos. Complicated stuff. As for leaving it there, I guess they think the problem is not too serious as long as it is not shook up and made airborne.

Aug 01, 2008 06:21 AM #9
Rainmaker
67,128
Kevin Corsa
H.I.S. Home Inspections (Summit, Stark Counties) - Canton, OH
H.I.S. Home Inspections, Stark & Summit County, OH Home Inspector

Duane,  I agree, I really have an issue with this, and I'm torn at the moment as to what course of action/inaction would be best.

Steve,   From what I have been able to gather, ((and from you and Charles- thank you) it appears there may be more inherent danger in removing or disturbing it than to just "let it be".  Still, if you leave it, there is always the possibility that someday, a child may come in contact with it (I remember how curious I was as a child). And if you decide to leave it, and maybe cover it up with more insulation (like fiberglass), then what does that do your liability, and disclosure statement?

I have heard of companies that say they can remove it, by vacuuming with a "hepa" filter, but can they really guarantee that some will not be missed? Or become airborne?

Should I be recommending a lab test?

Aug 01, 2008 10:33 PM #10
Anonymous
Raye
Can anyone tell me if this is the same as the vermiculite used in gardening and potted plants? And would that vermiculite be dangerous also? Thanks.
Aug 02, 2008 01:15 AM #11
Rainer
350,670
* Rate A Home
Rate A Home - Saugatuck, MI

Kevin, I can see where that would be a decision, but knowing you, you will make the right choice.

Aug 02, 2008 02:14 AM #12
Rainmaker
67,128
Kevin Corsa
H.I.S. Home Inspections (Summit, Stark Counties) - Canton, OH
H.I.S. Home Inspections, Stark & Summit County, OH Home Inspector

Raye,

        I think vermiculite is now mined in some different places, other than Libby, Montanna. The Libby vermiculite is the only one that has any concern with this at this point. The Libby  vermiculite is what was used in alll those attics 40-50 years ago. There are many other uses for vermiculite, including plant growth, as a base under swimming pools etc.

Duane, Thanks for the vote of confidence.

Aug 02, 2008 02:30 AM #13
Ambassador
1,334,262
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Kevin, go onto the TIJ website and search "vermiculite" and read everything you can find by Caoihmin Connell----it will clear a lot of your concerns up.  I would try to help you more but I am rushing to get out of dodge:)

Aug 02, 2008 04:23 AM #14
Ambassador
1,334,262
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Kevin, I have been all through the TIJ site and can't find the article I was talking about.  Here is another link that should help.  Caoihmin replies in a couple of places in the comments.

Aug 05, 2008 04:05 AM #15
Rainmaker
67,128
Kevin Corsa
H.I.S. Home Inspections (Summit, Stark Counties) - Canton, OH
H.I.S. Home Inspections, Stark & Summit County, OH Home Inspector

Thanks Charles, I appreciate your efforts. :)

If you need help with SOC, (sending free cards) let me know or give me a call.

Aug 05, 2008 04:10 AM #16
Anonymous
Jane Krezman homeowner

USA weekend paper, August 8-10, 2008 is running an ad regarding the W.R. Grace bankruptcy. Looks like I could file a claim against them. I was wondering if it is legit and the query to vermiculite got me to Kevin's blog. I do have fiberglass over the vermiculite The house was built in 1961. I also have asbestos ceilings.

Aug 09, 2008 12:58 PM #17
Anonymous
Joe Homeowner

http://www.graceclaims.com/

Oct 09, 2008 06:45 AM #18
Anonymous
Karen

Hello,

We are purchasing a home.  built in 1958, it does have vermiculite in the attic.  We were going to encapsulate and insulate over and put bords over insulation.  We have been told by our mortgae company that the vermiculite must be removed or we will not get mortgage.  Have u heard of this before.

Karen

Mar 22, 2010 04:09 AM #19
Anonymous
Karen

Hello,

We are purchasing a home.  built in 1958, it does have vermiculite in the attic.  We were going to encapsulate and insulate over and put bords over insulation.  We have been told by our mortgae company that the vermiculite must be removed or we will not get mortgage.  Have u heard of this before.

Karen

Mar 22, 2010 04:09 AM #20
Post a Comment
Spam prevention
Show All Comments

What's the reason you're reporting this blog entry?

Are you sure you want to report this blog entry as spam?

Rainmaker
67,128

Kevin Corsa

H.I.S. Home Inspections, Stark & Summit County, OH Home Inspector
Ask me a question
*
*
*
*
Spam prevention

Additional Information