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kudomax 11-21-2011 06:09 PM

My Vermiculite has been disturbed
I recently purchased an older home and hired an electrician to rewire the entire house. I didn't know much about vermiculite and my electricians obviously didn't either. The attic was sealed off but they cut the old hatch that had been sealed and proceded to fish wires through and cut holes for new recepticals. After a couple of days I looked up in the attic and saw all the vermiculite and the empty Zonolite bags. That prompted me to do some research and I learned about the dangers of disturbing it.
I am going to have it tested, but in the mean time how long will it be before it settles down to the "undisturbed" way it had been.
I plan on getting it tested, but I am planning for the worst.
Should I have it removed or just reseal the attic hatch and leave it be?
Should I get an air quality test?
I am really concerned about this and need some answers.
I have not moved in the house yet, I am doing other renos (that don't involve the attic) before I move in.


Daniel Holzman 11-21-2011 06:16 PM

As you have no doubt discovered, zonolite from the Libby MT mine had asbestos fibers in it. As for your insulation "settling" down, I don't really understand the relationship of settling down to your concerns about asbestos. The asbestos issue arises if the zonolite gets stirred up and makes its way into inhabited space. If that was going to happen, it already did due to the electrical work, and the zonolite "settling down" is not going to change that. Step one is to get the zonolite tested for asbestos. If it comes up positive, you need to decide if you want your house tested for stray zonolite. If the house comes up positive, you may want to get the house abated.

As for the attic, well if you never go up there, perhaps there is little to be concerned about. If you plan to use the space for storage, or are concerned about the zonolite migrating into the inhabited space, you may want to get it abated. This would probably involve removal, likely not a DIY project, and it could be expensive.

Windows on Wash 11-21-2011 06:34 PM

How extensive was the disturbance of the insulation?

If it is not being agitated at this point, the fibers have likely fallen back to the attic floor.

How much insulation do you have up there now? If it is open, I can promise you that you probably don't have enough. Might be a good time to pseudo encapsulate that vermiculite with a cellulose overblow. Then seal up the hatch again.

Asbestos is not as life altering dangerous as it is made out to be. Treat it with respect and you will be fine. The people that have asbestosis are people that worked with it for years.

I personally think that Fiberglass, given its promoted safety, posses a great health risk over time. People aren't as scared of it and therefore do not take the proper PPE measures. More people will be made ill as a result of FG by 10X fold than asbestos...I would bet.

kudomax 11-21-2011 07:18 PM

I don't think it was disturbed too much, one of the electricians dragged a lot of wiring over top of it in the attic to fish down the walls. There were two spots in the level below the attic that when they cut holes to put plugs in, the vermiculite poured out of the holes and piled on the wood floor. That was before I knew what it was and I just scooped it up with a dustpan and put it in a garbage bag, then put it back in the attic and that is when I saw the empty bags and researched what it was.
Other than that there has been a bit here and there from different lights and recepticals that are being installed.
Before the electricians started, I removed all the carpeting in the house and will be having new carpet installed in the bedrooms and I will be installing hardwood in the rest of the house.
I will be sealing around the the boxes and recepticals below the attic with spray foam to avoid any more falling through.
I am a single dad, and have two boys that live with me half of the time and I don't want them exposed to anything that will affect their health.

Windows on Wash 11-22-2011 08:16 AM

I think that is commendable.

Make some boxes out of HVAC ductwork or drywall and spray foam them.

While you are up there, you might as well try doing some air sealing as well.

mnp13 11-23-2011 11:50 AM

If you never go up there, and you leave it alone, asbestos will not hurt you. What was stirred up is over and done with. If you are still concerned, you can get a HEPA filter for your vacuum and go through the house very carefully to get any dust. As previously posted, people who have health problems from asbestos exposure had long term, repeated exposure.

I have the same stuff in my attic, and I just leave it alone. We're blowing cellulose over it in the next few weeks.

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