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Is Vermiculite in an Attic Dangerous?

by | Aug 7, 2023 | 0 comments

All vermiculite insulation is assumed to contain asbestos, making it a serious health concern for homeowners. Vermiculite is dangerous when it is disturbed so it is important to hire a professional whenever disturbing it is necessary or when you plan to remediate it. In the following article, we will address common concerns about identifying asbestos-contaminated vermiculite, the risks of exposure, and the role of the Zonolite Company’s trust in financing remediation efforts.

Vermiculite is often found during home energy assessments. If it is found, your energy auditor will not disturb the material and will inform you about its location and the dangers that are involved with it. Some energy auditors will also be able to provide information on remediation as well. 

Attic Vermiculite is dangerous

Identifying Asbestos-Contaminated Vermiculite

Due to the historical association between vermiculite insulation and asbestos, all vermiculite insulation is assumed to contain asbestos unless proven otherwise through laboratory testing. It is crucial to treat any vermiculite insulation with caution, as disturbing it can release asbestos fibers into the air, putting occupants at risk of exposure.

Hazards of Vermiculite Insulation

Vermiculite insulation contaminated with asbestos poses severe health risks when disturbed or degraded. Asbestos fibers are microscopic and can become airborne when the insulation is disturbed during renovation, remodeling, or natural deterioration. The inhalation of asbestos fibers can lead to several life-threatening diseases:

  1. Mesothelioma: Prolonged asbestos exposure, even at low levels, is a leading cause of mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive cancer affecting the lining of the lungs, abdomen, or heart.
  2. Asbestosis: Asbestos fibers can scar the lungs, leading to asbestosis, a chronic and debilitating lung condition that can cause breathing difficulties and reduced lung function.
  3. Lung Cancer: Long-term exposure to asbestos increases the risk of developing lung cancer.
  4. Other Respiratory Issues: Asbestos exposure can also cause non-malignant respiratory conditions, such as pleural plaques and pleural effusions.

Zonolite Trust and Vermiculite Insulation Remediation

The majority of vermiculite insulation used in homes was produced by the Zonolite Company, which operated a mine in Libby, Montana. Unfortunately, this mine was contaminated with asbestos, resulting in widespread asbestos-contaminated vermiculite insulation. This mine also happened to be the largest producer of vermiculite in the US. In response to numerous lawsuits and health concerns, the Zonolite Company established a trust fund to help remediate vermiculite insulation found in attics.

The Zonolite Attic Insulation Trust was created to provide financial assistance for the abatement of vermiculite insulation from attics in eligible properties. The trust offers reimbursement for up to 55% of the abatement costs, making it more feasible for homeowners to address the hazardous insulation in their homes.

The Importance of Professional Vermiculite Insulation Remediation

Given the assumed asbestos content in all vermiculite insulation and the serious health risks associated with exposure, professional remediation is not only recommended but crucial. Certified asbestos abatement professionals are trained to handle hazardous materials safely and follow strict procedures to ensure the proper removal and disposal of vermiculite insulation. They also have the expertise to apply for reimbursement from the Zonolite Attic Insulation Trust, further easing the financial burden for homeowners.

If an energy auditor finds vermiculite insulation in your home, you may be eligible for enhanced incentives for remediation. If you qualify as moderate-income based on Mass Save’s guidelines you may be eligible for up to $7,000 toward remediation costs. 


The dangers of vermiculite insulation can’t be overemphasized. As all vermiculite insulation is assumed to contain asbestos, homeowners must prioritize professional inspection and remediation to safeguard their health and the well-being of their household. The Zonolite Attic Insulation Trust plays a crucial role in providing financial support for remediation efforts, making it easier for homeowners to take action against hazardous vermiculite insulation. Act now to ensure a healthier and safer living environment for the future.

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