Does My Insulation Contain Asbestos?29th June 2018
Unfortunately, despite the efforts of asbestos removal companies to rid the substance from wherever it’s identified, it can still be found in numerous places: homes, public buildings, offices, schools – you name it. While we can still find asbestos now, it reached its peak during the 20th century, when each and every building that was constructed used asbestos throughout. It could even be found in buildings older than 1900, as renovations carried out through their lifespan would have incorporated this dangerous material.
In this article, we’ll be looking at one of the most common places in your home where asbestos can still be found: your insulation.
What sort of insulation should I worry about?
The main source of asbestos danger, as far as insulation is concerned, is vermiculite attic insulation. However, it’s worth noting that not all sources of vermiculite pose a hazard. A pellet-like material used for gardening, there is nothing intrinsically dangerous about vermiculite – but sourcing it can be.
In the 20th century, vermiculite was mined by the Libby company for around 70 years under the brand name Zonolite. Zonolite presents a health danger only because it was contaminated with tremolite, an asbestos-like mineral, from the mine.
At this stage you’re probably thinking that, since you’re from the UK, this doesn’t concern you. However, this isn’t necessarily the case: although official figures are difficult to obtain, Zonolite was also imported into the UK for domestic use. While the number of affected homes will be nothing like that of the USA (a whopping 35 million), it’s still worth being cautious when it comes to your loft insulation.
Here’s how you can tell if your insulation contains asbestos:
- Your house was built before 1990 – because the Libby mine closed in 1990, houses built or remodeled before that date might have asbestos-containing loft insulation. If it was built after 1990, the chances are reduced but not eliminated.
- The insulation particles have a certain color – Zonolite is usually grey-brown or silver-gold.
- The particles have an corrugated texture – because Zonolite is subjected to heat, the corrugated texture is a result of the particle puffing up.
- The insulation lays flat – Zonolite lays flat and firm in the joist cavity, as opposed to loose-fill fiberglass, which tends to fluff up.
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