How To Test Vermiculite for Asbestos

You will rarely see vermiculite insulation fill that may contain asbestos in a bag that’s similar to how cement is packaged. That’s for sure. However you are most likely to test positive for asbestos if your house was built on or has last seen its renovation in the 1940s. That’s a long time ago, indeed! So if you are the kind of person who is into buying, selling, inspecting, or owning buildings and homes that can have vintage or historical appeal, you are definitely advised to hire a professional or speak with the U.S. EPA inspectors before moving in. You might know it but the air you could be breathing in there contain asbestos – a mineral fiber used for insulation and also as a fire retardant that when inhaled can lead to very serious health problems. In connection with vermiculite, which is a mineral resembling shiny flakes or mica, it is logical to assume that if you see the presence of vermiculite in your insulation, then asbestos is right at the center of this mix.

With a professional lead in tow, you can actually help detect and test vermiculite for its asbestos content.

Here’s how:

Prepare what you will need. You will need protective gear to accomplish this task:

  • Respirator (N-; P-; or R-100)
  • Coveralls (one-time use only)
  • Latex gloves
  • See-through shoe covers
  • Long-sleeved T-Shirt
  • Pants
  • Goggles
  • Shoes
  • Plastic bags
  • Flashlight
  • Ladder

Get dressed and don your protective gear. Check for holes and tears before proceeding with the task. You might think that this going a bit too far since you are not checking for active viruses that kills instantly but asbestos is very dangerous and something that you cannot risk inhaling at all costs. Remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Bring your flashlight and ladder. If you are headed up into the attic where the vermiculite insulation fill is laid out.

Carefully pick up vermiculite samples. Move from one area to another. Gather samples and place these inside the plastic bag. Tread carefully so as not to disturb your immediate environment and prevent asbestos fiber from being released further into the cramped breathing space.

Leave the attic with your plastic bag. Once you are done, carefully retrace your steps the same way you entered the attic as further precaution on your part. Again, you are reminded to tread carefully as you exit the attic. Don’t forget to bring your samples with you.

Remove every bit of protective clothing that you have on you. Those that are disposable must be placed inside a garbage bag and placed inside the dumpster ASAP. To make sure no one dumpster dives for it, place a note outside of the garbage bag that says “Health Hazard. Dispose of immediately.” Those that can be reused must be cleaned following cleaning instructions and placed in a place that cannot be reached by children.

Bring your sample to the U.S. EPA or a laboratory for testing. Only through lab testing with the aid of polarized light microscopy can the results be proven positive for asbestos and therefore confirm your suspicion about the presence of such in the home or building.

Remember that asbestos is lethal to health so as soon as you suspect the presence of this mineral, get it inspected right away.


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