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Frequently Asked Questions: Information for Families

I have heard that a common type of home insulation may contain deadly asbestos. Is this true?

asbestos fibers in homeYou may be referring to vermiculite, a naturally occurring mineral used for insulation that is sometimes contaminated with asbestos. While asbestos is not a major contaminant in vermiculite ore, the largest vermiculite mine in the United States, located near Libby, Montana, was found to have heavy asbestos contamination. In fact, the Libby mine was the source of over 70 percent of all vermiculite sold in the U.S. from 1919 to 1990, according to the EPA’s website. There was a deposit of asbestos at that mine, so the vermiculite from Libby was contaminated with asbestos. Vermiculite from Libby was used in the majority of vermiculite insulation in the U.S. and was often sold under the brand name Zonolite.

If you have vermiculite insulation in your home, you should assume the vermiculite contains asbestos and not disturb it. The reason: any disturbance could potentially release asbestos fibers into the air, where they can be inhaled.

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