Q. Home Inspector Disturbed the Vermiculite… Problem?

Hey Mark!

I just read your question about a seller having asbestos in their home. I am on the other end, the buyer. I just had an inspection and the inspector found vermiculite in a portion of the home. It is covered by about 8-10 inches of new installation.

One concern, the inspector stuck his hand into the vermiculite and pulled out a handful to show me.. does this fall under the category of ‘do not disturb the asbestos’ or is this ok?

Thank you!

Maria

Hey Maria,

While a minor disturbance such as this may not be a major health risk in and of itself, the cumulative effect of exposure to asbestos is a proven threat.  Apparently your inspector has a comfort level with it that exceeds what the EPA recommends.  They recommend NOT disturbing the vermiculite insulation.  If it is disturbed inadvertently, they recommend leaving the area and allowing the dust to settle.

Even though the inspector should not have disturbed it, I might also say that it is good that he found the vermiculite.  Most inspectors don’t move insulation around.  His “probing” was what lead him to the discovery.

Now, you need to ask yourself how much you love the home. If you love it, and can either live in the home without disturbing the insulation, or can have it removed, then the home may still be a good option for you. The fact that additional insulation is on top of the vermiculite does give it an additional barrier that may help to minimize disturbances. You can read more about vermiculite insulation and asbestos on the EPA’s website so that you can be well-informed as you make your decision.

Mark

Mark Nahrgang is the owner of Kingdom Inspection Network Group – St. Louis and is a professional NACHI certified building inspector in the St. Louis metro area. Mark performs home inspections as well as commercial inspections throughout St. Louis and St. Charles County.

Granite Countertops and Radon

Readers,
Some Realtors have reported that they are getting questions from their clients about the safety of granite countertops. This is due to some information that has recently circulated regarding its potential for radioactivity. The American Association for Radon Scientists and Technologists (AARST) has released a statement on radon and granite counter tops.  This statement is directly in line with previous posts at www.HeyMark.info on that subject.

Read more at: http://www.aarst.org/images/AARST_Granite_Position_Statement_8-04-2008.pdf

Mark Nahrgang is the owner of Kingdom Inspection Network Group – St. Louis and is a professional NACHI certified building inspector in the St. Louis metro area. Mark performs home inspections as well as commercial inspections throughout St. Louis and St. Charles County.

Q. Isn’t Today’s Vermiculite Okay to Use for Insulation?

Hey Mark,
I am told that the vermiculite currently mined has no asbestos.
Here is the website: http://www.vermiculite.com/

The reason I am interested in using vermiculite as an attic insulation is that it is one of the few materials that is non toxic and non flammable. Fiberglass is flammable and in addition, I hate working with the stuff.

Does anyone know of any other materials other than vermucilite that is both non toxic and non flammable? My problem is that I own a Victorian and there are no firebreaks in the walls and no sheet rock.
David

Hey David,
It is also my understanding that the vermiculite that is currently being mined is tested for asbestos.  And because of that, today’s sources are free from asbestos.  However, in spite of the fact that vermiculite does have many practical uses, and would potentially make a great home insulation, it is not being used that way today.  And, I think you are asking for trouble if you do.

If you eventually try to sell the home, your buyers will have a home inspection performed.  That inspector will more than likely identify your insulation as vermiculite.  Since it is not currently being used as an insulation material, there will be cause to question if it is contaminated with asbestos or not.  Continue reading

Q. Should I Be Worried About My Granite Countertops?

Q. Hey Mark,

I’ve been hearing that Granite counter tops might be dangerous. I’m concerned because we just spent a lot money putting some in our new home. I don’t understand it all and just need to know if I should have the granite removed.

Thanks,

Tammy

A. Hey Tammy,

I’ve been reading and hearing a lot about granite too, both positive and negative. It is possible that those in the composite counter top industry have been capitalizing on some research showing that some granite does emit radiation. On the other hand, those in the granite industry are saying that granite is perfectly safe. If you Google this, you are going to find articles that support both sides.

I suspect the truth is somewhere in the middle.  That is, while granite does have the potential to emit radiation, I suspect that in most cases a counter top is not going to contain enough radon producing materials to affect your exposure levels significantly. Yes, I have heard that if you hold a Geiger counter next to a granite counter top it may go off, but I’ve also been told that if you hold one next to a banana it will go off due to the potassium. Knowing what to believe is hard to discern.

The first thing I would suggest is  having a radon test ran in your home. This is something that every homeowner should have done anyway, and it will help you determine whether you have anything to worry about. Continue reading