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VERMICULITE

vermiculite is a member of the phyllosilicate group of minerals, resembling mica in appearance. It is found in various parts of the world, but currently the major mines are located in South Africa, China, Brazil, Zimbabwe, and the United States. The largest operating mines today are located in the Palabora region of North-Eastern Transvaal in South Africa, in the northwestern corners of China, and along the eastern Appalachian range in the United States (Virginia and South Carolina). The vermiculite ores from these mines are different forms of hydrated phlogopite or biotite mica which has the remarkable ability of being able to expand to many times its original volume when heated---a property known as exfoliation.

Some vermiculite insulation may contain amphibole asbestos fibres. These products can cause health risks if disturbed during maintenance, renovation or demolition. However, there is currently no evidence of risk to your health if the insulation is sealed behind wallboards and floorboards, isolated in an attic, or otherwise kept from exposure to the interior environment.

Vermiculite is a mica-like mineral mined around the world and used in a variety of commercial and consumer products because it is fire-resistant and has good insulation qualities. Of concern is vermiculite ore produced by the Libby Mine in Montana from the 1920's to 1990. It was sold as ZonoliteŽ Attic Insulation and possibly other brands in Canada during that time. Vermiculite from the Libby Mine may contain amphibole asbestos. The Libby Mine supplied the majority of the world market in vermiculite-based insulation.

The best way to minimize your risk of amphibole asbestos exposure is to avoid disturbing vermiculite-based insulation in any way. If vermiculite-based insulation is contained and not exposed to the home or interior environment, it poses very little risk.

If you are concerned that your home may contain vermiculite-based insulation visit links at the bottom of this page or the Health Canada Web site to get the most up-to-date information as it becomes available.

For information on occupational exposure to asbestos, contact the: Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) 135 Hunter Street East Hamilton, ON L8N 1M5 Phone: 1-905-570-8094 Toll-Free: 1-800-668-4284 Fax: 1-905-572-2206 Web Site: www.ccohs.ca
Other Useful Links
Heath Canada
www.vermiculite.net/
CHMC - Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation
Asbestos Removel Service
Attic Insulation
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