The word vermiculite is often thrown around in many discussions about home improvement and home safety. However, very few people have an idea of what it actually is.

Well, let’s start with a simple fact. In case the house was built well before the 1980s, then it’s possible that there’s vermiculite in the attic and other parts of the house. However, due to changes in laws banning its use in most states, modern homes don’t have it. 

A lot of homeowners are searching for vermiculite insulation removal cost due to its toxic nature, so it’s important to have a better understanding of what you’re dealing with. 

Today, I’ll share an in-depth explanation of vermiculite and why it’s so important to know as a homeowner! 

“For success, attitude is equally as important as ability. – Walter Scott

What is Vermiculite?

Let’s start off with the most basic question of them all.

Vermiculite is a naturally occurring mineral that’s mostly used for insulation in homes. The practice of using it is very old, and in most cases, it’s found in houses built in the 1980s or before that. The insulation was sold in the US for years under the name Zonolite and largely came from a mine in Libby, Montana.

Why Does Vermiculite Get a Bad Rep?

You may wonder why people would spend thousands of dollars to have it removed. Well, the answer is quite simple: the substance is toxic. As a matter of fact, federal regulations have banned the use of these substances for their toxicity.


You’ll be surprised to learn that vermiculite on its own is actually not a toxic substance. It’s generally safe to use but there’s a caveat: most of the material sold in the US came from a mine in Montana, the same place where most of the asbestos in the US came from. 

It’s believed that the vermiculite was contaminated with asbestos as a result. In fact, current estimates show that 75% of the material sold in the US in the 1980s was contaminated. 

Asbestos is a known carcinogenic substance that can pose various health risks. For this reason, vermiculite gets a really bad rep. Homeowners are encouraged to seek out vermiculite testing just to be on the safe side of things. 

The Zonolite Attic Insulation Trust 

So, as the US started to understand the potential health risks associated with Zonolite or vermiculite, it became clear that these substances need to be removed from homes. 

However, a huge percentage of Americans continue to live with vermiculite insulation, even though the health risks were clear, either to misinformation or to avoid the costs of removal. In order to remedy this situation, the Zonolite Attic Insulation Trust was founded in 2014. 

The trust is designed to offset the cost of removing vermiculite from homes and it will reimburse you up to 55% of the total cost you spend in this project

The highest payout per homeowner is $4,125. The idea behind the trust was to basically subsidize the cost of vermiculite and asbestos removal.

What Should I Do If I Have Vermiculite in My Home?

It’s best to remove the insulation to avoid health risks. Source: Family Handyman
It’s best to remove the insulation to avoid health risks. Source: Family Handyman

If you suspect that your home may contain it, you should get a vermiculite inspection. This will help you decide the amount to be removed and the overall cost. There are several DIY tests that you can buy from your local hardware store, but we don’t advise this. 

It’s more prudent to get in touch with a local insulation company so that everything is done professionally. Vermiculite removal may also require specialized equipment that you may not have at your disposal.

Federal Regulations Are Not as Tough as You Think

Individual states in the US have put in place their own laws regarding the use of vermiculite in homes. In some states, these laws are tough while in others they are a bit more accommodating. But federal regulations on the use of vermiculite are actually not as tough as you may think. 

According to the EPA, you’re advised to assume that whatever vermiculite you have is contaminated with asbestos. The EPA considers Asbestos Containing Material as anything that contains more than 1% of asbestos. Recent studies show that even 1% of asbestos is risky and as such, it’s still advisable to plan for the cost to remove asbestos if you have vermiculite. 

Contact a local insulation company to request a free quote on the cost to remove vermiculite!


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