Approximately one million homes in the United States have attics in which vermiculite was used as insulation. Vermiculite is a light brown or gray mineral. Much of the vermiculite may have originated from a Montana mine, and vermiculite from this source may contain trace levels of asbestiform amphibole.
This particular product was marketed under the trade name Zonolite. Exposure to vermiculite from the now-closed Montana mine may increase the risk of developing asbestos-related diseases.
Until now, evaluating vermiculite insulation was a time-consuming process, since a sample required collection and testing at a laboratory offsite. Scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey have created a new, onsite asbestos detection tool which greatly reduces the amount of time needed to identify vermiculite from the Montana mine.
This new tool allows the use of a portable spectrometer to analyze samples onsite, so a homeowner knows immediately whether his or her property contains vermiculite insulation from the Montana location, and information on remediation options.
Keep in mind that vermiculite is generally a safe and effective form of insulation, so just finding out that it was used in a dwelling is not a cause for panic. What is important is discovering where the vermiculite originated from, and that is done by testing. The spectrometer can identify whether asbestos is present in the vermiculite.
Vermiculite was mined at sites in Montana, Virginia, South Carolina, China and South Africa. It is only the Montana mine that contaminated its vermiculite with asbestos, as the vermiculite deposits were adjacent to asbestos deposits. The mine was in operation for half a century, with production ceasing in 1990. It is currently a Superfund site.
Over that period, hundreds of people in the small town of Libby, where the mine was located, died of asbestos-relate diseases. Many thousands more suffered from diseases relating to asbestos exposure.
While the asbestos detection tool is promising, it is also expensive, costing approximately $50,000. That means individual homeowners are unlikely to purchase it; but inspection companies are the intended market. Inspectors can complete their work in minutes and start working with homeowners on remediation procedures.
Larger construction companies are another potential buyer of the device, as remodeling projects involving attics and other insulation disturbances should not proceed if asbestos is discovered.
Asbestos was used in commercial and residential construction because of its fire-resistant and insulating properties, as well as its strength. Exposure to asbestos can result in serious and fatal health problems. These include lung cancer, mesothelioma – cancer of the tissues covering the internal organs – and asbestosis, a chronic lung disease leading to shortness of breath and an added risk of mesothelioma development.
There is no such thing as safe level of asbestos exposure.
If you or a loved one have suffered from asbestos exposure or potential exposure, you need the services of an experienced asbestos lawyer inPhiladelphia from Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler. Let us assist you in obtaining the compensation you need and deserve. We are centrally located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and we proudly serve clients from the surrounding areas. To set up a free initial consultation, complete our online form or call us at 215-569-4000 today.