Posts Tagged ‘Asbestorama’

What’s in your attic?

February 27, 2012

Miracle Material, Modern Curse:  Vermiculite 

Vermiculite insulation can be found in older homes.  It was installed in attics often by homeowners, many years ago and sometimes made its way into walls. Vermiculite insulation, on its own, is not a bad thing.  However, the problem is, Vermiculite insulation may contain asbestos.

Maybe you’re looking at this picture and thinking about the holiday decorations you just tucked away in the attic. You’re thinking “uh oh…” hold on.  When our advisors investigate a home, they keep their eyes out for this stuff. If they find it, they proceed with caution because it may have asbestos in it.  On the other hand, it may not have asbestos in it. Unfortunately, you can’t tell simply by looking at it. So be cautious and don’t disturb it.  The EPA  has a good deal of information on vermiculite and so will your energy advisor.

As you can see, it’s important to consider health and safety when improving the efficiency of our homes. The Building Performance Institute (BPI) has standards regarding suspected asbestos containing materials such as vermiculite. Yet another reason why every GreenHomes America advisor is BPI certified.  Shaking the “curse” is easy. Not only can we help you figure out what is in your attic, but also what to do with it, and most important how to stay safe right at home.



photos used with permission from Asbestorama on Flickr

Miracle Material and Alchemists Asset: A Modern Day Construction Curse?

February 23, 2012

 Asbestos has captured the attention of human kind for thousands of years.   In fact, the Greek physician Dioscorides noted in De Materia Medica that handkerchiefs made of asbestos were reused, cleaned by fire[i].   Maybe a fine way to prevent the spread of germs well before it was widely understood, but I can’t imagine they were good for anyone’s health.

 The material is fireproof, strong, flexible, and is an all natural mineral mined from the earth.  Easy to see why it has captured the attention of so many including medieval alchemists who suggested the fibers came from hairs of fire resistant salamanders!   It was with the growth of industry that the use of asbestos really took off, and took a toll on us all. 

I do not wish to entirely vilify the material; it is still used and necessary in many applications in industry. But since the construction boom after World War II, its widespread use in products in our homes as well as the misunderstanding of the dangers behind the material, a costly toll has been paid.  What is clear is that the material has been used in many things from ceiling tiles, shingles, floor tiles, loose insulation, and pipe insulation.  The question is what do we do with it now we better understand the inherent dangers and realize it exists in many forms in our homes?  We will look into this more in the coming weeks stay tuned!



 Tremolite image used with permission from Asbestorama on flickr.

[i] James E Alleman and Brooke T. Mossman, Asbestos Revisited in Scientific American, July 1997

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