Is the sale dead if you discover vermiculite in the attic?
When inspecting the attics of older homes, we often come across vermiculite insulation buried under more recently installed fibreglass or cellulose insulation. Some of this granular type of product was mined from a company in the U.S. and contained asbestos. This doesn’t have to be a deal killer as long as all parties are aware of the implications.

Be aware that vermiculite is expensive to remove if that is your decision, ($13 – $15 sq ft and up) and all other insulation must be removed and replaced as well. The home owner or contractor is usually responsible to obtain a sample from the attic, although for a price the lab may also do this. Many lab ‘tests’ seem to produce the same result of 1% asbestos. Apparently samples are taken and 100 fibers physically counted under a microscope. If one asbestos fiber is found among the 100 then 1% is the call. Liability for the labs must be quite high if they happen to miss that one fiber!

Not all vermiculite contains asbestos and Health Canada (see below) states that vermiculite need not be a concern provided it remains undisturbed in the attic and ceilings are properly sealed from dust. The labs say that the older large granular vermiculite doesn’t typically contain asbestos.

(Please note – Fleetwood does not test for asbestos in vermiculite or other substances)

Local Testing Labs – Sky Environmental    Island EHS   Pacific EHS
Local Removal Contractors  RemovAll    Hazpro
Health Canada Vermiculite information-   Health Canada

(click on pictures to enlarge)


Typical Vermiculite Insulation found in the attics of older homes.

 Provided courtesy of Fleetwood Building Inspections