Vermiculite is a naturally occurring mineral that has the unusual property of expanding into worm-like accordion shaped pieces when heated. The expanded vermiculite is a lightweight, fire-resistant, absorbent, and odourless material that has been used as insulation in attics and walls. Vermiculite insulation (VI) has also been associated with serious health and safety concerns regarding asbestos. Health Canada states:
“to be safe and in the absence of evidence to the contrary, it is reasonable to assume that if your building has older [pre-1990] vermiculite-based insulation, it may contain some amphibole asbestos”.
Further, there may be potential liabilities associated with homes containing VI as they may have a stigma attached to them that may affect:
- the value of the home on resale; and or,
- there may be costs associated with its removal / disposal and or ensuring the area containing VI is sealed off from living spaces and remains undisturbed in the event renovations are contemplated.
Contractors cannot place their workers in harms way, so asbestos abatement may be required before any work to a home can begin. Some insurance companies may refuse to provide insurance on houses with this type of insulation or require, for example, additional / higher premiums, modifications, and or further an inspections / testing. Read more about vermiculite insulation and what to do if present in your home.