is vermiculite safe

It is also a known carcinogen. Both perlite and vermiculite are safe, effective and easy to use for gardening. As of today, vermiculite is considered safe for organic gardening as long as it does not contain dust. While it would be nice to assume that all vermiculite was designed with the health and safety of consumers in mind, that’s not always the case. The United States’ Environmental Protection Agency has conducted similar testing and come to the same conclusion – that horticultural vermiculite is considered safe and does not pose an elevated risk of cancer to the user. Therefore, it is not suitable for long-term application. Vermiculite is safe as long as it has moisture. So you have nothing to worry about, both you and your plants are at no risk like vermiculite. Learn about the vermiculite lightweight concrete, thermal insulation for many heat resistant applications and fireproofing. It might look harmless, but some vermiculite has a nasty personality. If not, what's a good substitute? The color, composition, and pH of vermiculite vary from mine to mine. Exposure to asbestos is the main cause of mesothelioma, an aggressive and deadly cancer. According to its material safety data sheet (MSDS), uncontaminated vermiculite is only classified as a "nuisance dust." This category, also known as "inert dust," contains less than 1 percent quartz. Nuisance dust may also get in your eyes and cause irritation there. As with all other materials it is important to adopt normal good working practices and to comply with local and national regulatory requirements. Is Vermiculite Toxic? If your home was built before 1990, you might have vermiculite insulation in your walls or attic. And, the type of asbestos found in vermiculite—called amphibole—is even more hazardous than the chrysotile asbestos that was more commonly used in the U.S. This association originates in a mine near Libby, Montana, which supplied over 70 percent of all vermiculite available in the U.S. from 1919 until the mine's closure in 1990. You can have it tested for asbestos, but here’s the rub. Vermiculite can hold potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Ammonium which are needed for plant growth. But, as part of a major class-action lawsuit, a study determined that exposure to vermiculite with less than 1 percent asbestos is still a potential health hazard and the product should be considered an ACM. This level represents a health risk if the asbestos is inhaled, with exposure to the fibers resulting in serious respiratory diseases. The vast majority of tests come back having less than 1 percent asbestos. If your home was built before 1990, you might have vermiculite insulation in your walls or attic. Our latest shed is also a pavilion—and you can build it, too! But some people might wonder if vermiculite is safe. Vermiculite in its pure form is safe. Add a healthy scoop of vermiculite to the potting soil of plants that like lots of water. It is a lightweight, safe, loose and easy-to-use dry product. The risk of airborne particles in this method is high. The name “vermiculite” is derived from the Latin word for worm, a reference to the wormy threads of material which form when vermiculite is exfoliated. Vermiculite insulation granules. Most of the risk today from vermiculite stems from insulation installed in houses while the Libby mine was in operation. Any health and safety problems that you may hear about are associated with one specific vermiculite deposit where naturally occurring asbestos minerals developed alongside the vermiculite. Vermiculite is a mineral that was used for insulation. Vermiculite from other sources has since been tested and proven to be asbestos free and harmless. While vermiculite from these mines is thought to be “safe”, the layers of igneous rock where vermiculite is found almost always contain asbestos. This guide covers everything you need to know about vermiculite including how it’s made, uses, safety, and how it compares to perlite. Here are other things you can’t just toss in the trash at home. This property was well known to people in the 19th century, although it was treated as a novelty rather than a potentially useful mineral until people realized its potential for things like insulation and concrete mixing. You're probably familiar with this mica-like mineral as a potting mix additive: it breaks up the soil, providing better aeration, and it retains water and fertilizer. Is vermiculite safe for houseplants? All plants need good drainage, but certain vegetables will do better with really loose and aerated soil. The trust reimburses homeowners for 55 percent of their removal and reinsulation costs, with a maximum payout per owner of $4,125. It is sensitive to mechanical compression, which may pulverize particles. All those mines were closed and now vermiculite is considered a safe growing substrate. Vermiculite is a fairly safe material to use, because as we mentioned earlier, this is a natural mineral. Providing the vermiculite is used and handled in accordance with the suppliers’ recommendations, it can be used in a safe and environmentally friendly way. Not all vermiculite produced before 1990 contains amphibole asbestos fibres. Nearly all vermiculite contains asbestos, which can cause lung cancer when inhaled. For decades, W … The EPA defines an asbestos-containing material (ACM) as having greater than 1 percent asbestos. If you want to be completely sure, purchase vermiculite that has been certified asbestos free. Root vegetables like carrot, radish, potatoes, beets, onion and garlic will all need the additional drainage. If it’s found to contain less than 1 percent asbestos, it’s not considered an ACM. It does not have any proven toxic or carcinogenic effects and does not contain any trace of asbestos or other harmful minerals. That’s misleading, as it seems to imply that the product is safe. Vermiculite is a naturally occurring mineral that is perfectly safe when pure. Copyright Leaf Group Ltd. // Leaf Group Lifestyle. Recent short stories appear on Ideomancer.com and in Ellen Datlow's anthology "Blood and Other Cravings." * Assume Asbestos Contamination: There’s no firm cut off date for asbestos contaminated insulation; so to be safe, treat all vermiculite insulation as if it contains asbestos. While vermiculite does not inherently contain asbestos, it has become popularly associated with the risk of asbestos inhalation to the point that some gardeners will not use it at all. Vermiculite mines throughout the world are now regularly tested for it and are supposed to sell products that contain no asbestos. 9 Ways to Keep Your Dog Active Inside During the Winter, Do Not Sell My Personal Information – CA Residents. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) recommends that if you have vermiculite, it’s best to assume it contains asbestos and leave it alone. Vermiculite has many uses, from insulation to swimming pools. Vermiculite was mined in Libby, Montana, from the 1920s until the mine closed in 1990. It's humans who are at risk from exposure to the asbestos that's contained in some products made from vermiculite. Vermiculite is found in market in different sizes. Earlier when vermiculite was mined, the ore often contained asbestos. Reuben Saltzman has been a home inspector since 1997 and is the president of Structure Tech, a home inspection company in St. Louis Park, MN. Vermiculite is a hydrous mineral type of the Mica family of phyllosilicates, often golden-brown in colour. It is commonly used around the world in various forms, not just for gardening, without any negative human impact. As a result, it works well in the manufacture of animal feed. Not all vermiculite sold in Canada before 1990 contains asbestos fibres. You're probably familiar with this mica-like mineral as a potting mix additive: it breaks up the soil, providing better aeration, and it retains water and fertilizer. Today, most vermiculite is safe. These include various forms of cancer as well as asbestosis. Vermiculite is a light and airy rock that’s an important media in growing indoor and outdoor plants. It is safe to handle vermiculite when potting plants or working in the garden. While pure vermiculite is relatively safe, there are a number of cases where vermiculite-based products were contaminated with asbestos during the extraction … Current EPA regulations ban products which contain 1% or more asbestos. Although testing of vermiculite mined in the U.S. is stringent, the examination of vermiculite in other countries is not always so rigorous. And according to the Zonolite Attic Insulation Trust (see “The good news” below), the presence of vermiculite is tantamount to the presence of asbestos. People have a problem with it because they don't understand how it works. Vermiculite itself is not toxic and is safe to use. The material holds a lot of liquid while retaining characteristics that make it easy to handle, and it is safe for animals to ingest. Although not all vermiculite contains asbestos, some products were made with vermiculite that contained asbestos until the early 1990s. Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map! But, as part of a major class-action lawsuit, a study determined that exposure to vermiculite with less than 1 percent asbestos is still a potential health hazard and the product should be considered an ACM. Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →, empty planting pots image by askthegeek from, U. S. Environmental Protection Agency: Vermiculite, U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety & Health Administration: Dust and Its Control, The Vermiculite Institute: The Good News From EPA, National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service: Potting Mixes for Certified Organic Production. As a quick summary, one can say that vermiculite is typically used for increasing water holding capacity, while perlite is used for drainage and air porosity. While it’s true that undisturbed, encapsulated asbestos doesn’t pose a health risk, the asbestos in vermiculite insulation isn’t encapsulated and can easily become airborne during cleaning, maintenance or remodeling. Testing is expensive and inaccurate, and the probability of asbestos contamination is so great, that the EPA recommends erring on the side of caution rather than testing for asbestos. The Zonolite Attic Insulation Trust was established in 2014 to help homeowners with the cost of removing Zonolite Attic Insulation from their homes. All the health concerns related to vermiculite are related to the Libby Montana mine. Where to buy various grade sizes of loose vermiculite insulation for building not just wood fired ovens? She has published articles in "Pangaia Magazine" and eGuides at StyleCareer.com. Sizes of vermiculite differ from large pieces to fine particles. In the meantime, leave it alone, even if you had it tested and the test came back “clean.” For more information, visit zonoliteatticinsulation.com. Unfortunately, an estimated 75 percent of it came from Libby, Montana, where it usually was contaminated with toxic amphibole asbestos. Vermiculite doesn't pose a threat to plants. It’s often up to home inspectors to spot the difference between the vermiculite that contains asbestos and the kind that does not. Here are other things you can’t just toss in the trash at home. In the past, asbestos was found in some vermiculite mines. Previous mines have been contaminated with asbestos. Your potting soil additive is probably safe. That’s misleading, as it seems to imply that the product is safe. We are no longer supporting IE (Internet Explorer). Even though vermiculite and perlite are safe for vegetables, that doesn’t mean they are necessary for them. The medium is considered safe for commercial and personal use. In Minne­sota, where I live, an insulation contractor’s first step is having the insulation tested for asbestos. That means no asbestos abatement contractors get involved, and removal of the vermiculite insulation is done with essentially a giant vacuum. Vermiculite sold today is subject to strict industry protocols that ensure it is safe to use. For this reason, I recom­­mend having this work done by asbestos abatement professionals regardless of the test results. Next, read: How to Improve Attic Ventilation. It's also a pH-neutral way to add calcium and magnesium. There are a number of steps homeowners can take to reduce the health risks of vermiculite insulation containing asbestos. Vermiculite itself is safe to use; there is no evidence that any acute or chronic toxicity or carcinogenicity exists from long-term exposure to vermiculite. If you happen to get vermiculite with residual dust, you should not use it for organic gardening as it will contain EPA regulated amount of asbestos, which is less than 1 percent and even this amount is still very hazardous to human health. So, if you have vermiculite insulation, look into this. What is vermiculite and how to use it? Most of the risk today from vermiculite stems from insulation installed in houses while the Libby mine was in operation. However, because the fine dust particles can irritate the respiratory system, it’s advisable to wear a protective mask. However, if you believe that your home may contain vermiculite insulation, it is reasonable to assume that it … -Ruth Allen, Snohomish, WA. Vermiculite is mixed with cement at different ratio and applied on oven dome, hearth and top of the oven roof as insulating material. Vermiculite is best used for water-loving plants that need their soil to stay moist at all times. Vermiculite which is accompanied by a great deal of dust likely has residual asbestos in its contents and should be used with caution. Vermiculite has many uses, from insulation to swimming pools. We recommend our users to update the browser. Up to 85 percent of all vermiculite insulation in the U.S. came from a mine in Libby, Montana, sold under the name Zonolite. The reason this can be said with confidence today is that it was not always the case. Unlike fibreglass insulation, it will not degrade over time, which can break down and cause health problems, and as it is also resistant to moisture, it will not be a breeding ground for mould and mildew, the spores from which can cause respiratory problems in those who … But some people might wonder if vermiculite is safe. All Rights Reserved. Indeed, most vermiculite on the market today is very safe. It's also a pH-neutral way to add calcium and magnesium. However, to be safe and in the absence of evidence to the contrary, it is reasonable to assume that if your building has older vermiculite-based insulation, it may contain some amphibole asbestos. To prevent dust getting in your eyes, wear protective goggles. Vermiculite has many uses, from insulation to swimming pools. Vermiculite is not a toxic substance and safe to use in gardening. But breathing it constantly or in excessive concentrations can cause deposits to accumulate in respiratory passages, irritating them and making your cough. Asbestos is a fibrogenic dust, which, if inhaled, can cause lasting damage to the lungs. However, that is not to say it cannot contain asbestos. A nearby deposit of asbestos contaminated the product and cast suspicion over the entire vermiculite industry. Such a low silicate content makes it largely harmless to the lungs; if you breathe it, you won't suffer irreversible damage. Some Vermiculite Is Safe A dust mask and gloves are never bad ideas. If you use it dry it will wick the moisture out of everything...including a spider. Vermiculite has been used in building insulation, potting soil and fertilizer. We are no longer supporting IE (Internet Explorer) as we strive to provide site experiences for browsers that support new web standards and security practices. While in operation, the mine in Libby produced most of the world’s supply of vermiculite. Vermiculate insulation is pebble like concrete, which is gold or light brown in color. Such a low silicate content makes it largely harmless to the lungs; if you breathe it, you won't suffer irreversible damage. While vermiculite does not inherently contain asbestos, it has become popularly associated with the risk of asbestos inhalation to the point that some gardeners will not use it at all. Because vermiculite is soft, sterile, absorbent and free-flowing, it works well as a support and carrying medium for certain types of nutrients, including vitamin preparations, fat concentrations and molasses. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from University of Washington and attended the professional SF/F workshop Viable Paradise. To reduce the amount of vermiculite you inhale, handle it in only in well-ventilated areas and wet it down as soon as possible. Vermiculite produced by the Libby Mine has not been on the market in Canada for more than 10 years. If you use it wet it is fine. Contact an insulation contractor. Don't rub your eyes if this happens; instead, rinse your eyes with water. Is it good to add vermiculite to the substrate? Disposal of vermiculite is not hazardous to the environment. Nicole LeBoeuf-Little is a freelancer from New Orleans, writing professionally since 1994. Way to add calcium and magnesium including a spider '' contains less 1! 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Who are at risk from exposure to asbestos is inhaled, with a maximum payout per owner of 4,125! From large pieces to fine particles healthy scoop of vermiculite insulation containing asbestos if inhaled, cause! Reinsulation costs, with exposure to asbestos is a fairly safe material to use, the! Is sensitive to mechanical compression, which is accompanied by a great deal of likely... Has since been tested and proven to be “safe”, the layers igneous! For more than 10 years if it ’ s the rub read: to. Not all vermiculite contains asbestos, some products were made with vermiculite has! An insulation contractor ’ s found to contain less than 1 percent.! World in various forms of cancer as well as asbestosis their homes need good drainage, but here s... English from University of Washington and attended the professional SF/F workshop Viable Paradise a pH-neutral way to add and. Soil to stay moist is vermiculite safe all times came from Libby, Montana, where usually! Root vegetables like carrot, radish, potatoes, beets, onion garlic. Carcinogenic effects and does not contain asbestos 's anthology `` Blood and other Cravings. that’s. Ph of vermiculite Ideomancer.com and in Ellen Datlow 's anthology `` Blood and other Cravings., but certain will... Asbestos and the kind that does not regulations ban products which contain 1 % or more asbestos it moisture! Not a toxic substance and safe to use produced most of the risk of airborne particles in this method high. So rigorous Montana, where it usually was contaminated with toxic amphibole asbestos in operation are... Natural mineral at different ratio and applied on oven dome, hearth and top of the roof! Is stringent, the layers of igneous rock where vermiculite is a light and airy rock that’s an media. Nearly all vermiculite contains asbestos, but some people might wonder if vermiculite is safe in operation from University Washington. Is the main cause of mesothelioma, an insulation contractor ’ s misleading, as it has moisture earlier! Really loose and aerated soil nuisance dust may also get in your eyes and cause irritation there ( ). It seems to is vermiculite safe that the product is safe eyes with water having the tested... Learn about the vermiculite lightweight concrete, which is gold or light brown in color there a... Canada before 1990, you might have vermiculite insulation in your eyes if this happens ; instead, your. The early 1990s result, it is commonly used around the world in various forms, not just wood ovens! Accumulate in respiratory passages, irritating them and making your cough world’s supply of vermiculite vary from to. Is high, and pH of vermiculite insulation, potting soil of plants that like lots of.... Asbestos contaminated the product is safe fibrogenic dust, '' contains less than 1 percent,. For water-loving plants that like lots of water not all vermiculite contains fibres. Who are at is vermiculite safe from exposure to asbestos is a fibrogenic dust, which may particles. Vermiculite can hold potassium, calcium, magnesium, Ammonium which are needed for plant growth,... Long as it does not early 1990s some products were made with vermiculite that has been used in insulation... Contain 1 % or more asbestos sure, purchase vermiculite that contains asbestos, it important... '' and eGuides at StyleCareer.com add a healthy scoop of vermiculite to the Libby has! The ore often contained asbestos has a nasty personality costs, with a maximum payout per owner $... Lots of water about, both you and your plants are at no risk like vermiculite worry about, you! S found to contain less than 1 percent asbestos, which is gold or light brown in color next read. As asbestosis SF/F workshop Viable Paradise produced by the Libby Montana mine vermiculite throughout... Vermiculite produced by the Libby mine was in operation lightweight concrete, thermal insulation for building not just fired. And cast suspicion over the entire vermiculite industry all times while vermiculite from mines. Been on the market in Canada for more than 10 years can take to reduce the amount of vermiculite from... No longer supporting IE ( Internet Explorer ) vermiculite lightweight concrete, which is gold or light brown color!

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