Windstorm Repairs: Caution with Attics, Asbestos, Vermiculite Insulation
Thousands of area homeowners have had to deal with home repairs caused by windstorms in recent years. It's important to take precautions to avoid potential asbestos exposure during repairs.
"Whether doing the work yourself, or hiring a professional, it's important to take precautions to reduce asbestos exposure during home repair projects. Resources are available on our website. When repairing attics, be certain to first check for vermiculite insulation," according to Lori Rodriguez, Compliance Section Manager for Spokane Clean Air.
Vermiculite is a silver-gold to gray-brown mineral that has the unusual property of expanding into worm-like accordian-shaped pieces when heated. The expanded vermiculite is a light-weight, fire-resistant, absorbent, and odorless material. These properties allow vermiculite to be used to make numerous products, including insulation. Vermiculite attic insulation is a pebble-like product and is usually light brown or gold in color.
- Vermiculite insulation be left undisturbed in your attic. Spokane Clean Air requires that all loose vermiculite be treated as asbestos-containing material.
- You should not store boxes or other items in your attic if retrieving them will disturb the insulation.
- Children should not be allowed to play in an attic with open areas of vermiculite insulation.
- If you plan to remodel or conduct renovations, hire professionals trained and certified to safely handle, remove and dispose of asbestos containing materials.
- It is possible that vermiculite attic insulation can sift through cracks in the ceiling, around light fixtures, or around ceiling fans. You can prevent this by sealing the cracks and holes that insulation could pass through.
In the past, Spokane Clean Air has issued Orders Declaring Emergency due to Windstorms that waives select asbestos notification fees and waiting periods for Notices of Intent.