The best time to determine if a home has Zonolite(TM) vermiculite insulation is for the seller to have a home inspection prior to putting the home on the market. Otherwise, it is critical for a home buyer to have a home inspection conducted by a home inspector who is knowledgeable about the asbestos issue with Zonolite(TM) vermiculite insulation. Although the ZAI Trust has been reaching out to home inspectors professional associations, the home inspection profession is still grappling with this issue, and not all home inspectors may have received formal training about asbestos in Zonolite(TM) vermiculite insulation. For that reason, I recommend that a home owner hire a home inspector who is a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) or the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHE), because each of these professional organizations require their members to complete a certain amount of professional development education and training annually.
Sampling Vermiculite Insulation
There are three reasons for sampling vermiculite insulation: (1) To determine if it contains 1% or more asbestos and is therefore subject to Federal or State Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations when it is removed. (2) In Massachusetts, to determine if it is asbestos-containing waste material (ACWM), because the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) regulates construction debris with any amount of asbestos. (3) To determine if the vermiculite insulation is Zonolite(TM) for purposes of determining eligibility for partial reimbursement by the ZAI Trust for qualified removal costs.
While the ZAI Trust will allow a homeowner to collect a small sealed plastic bag of vermiculite insulation and submit it to the trust for analysis. Because Zonolite(TM) vermiculite insulation is friable and when disturbed can rapidly release elevated levels of Libby Asbestos into the air, I strongly encourage homeowners to hire a State-licensed asbestos inspector. The inspector should then send the sample to a laboratory that does a lot of analysis of vermiculite insulation for asbestos and has thereby developed special expertise in this type of asbestos testing.
Homeowners need to understand that if a sample of vermiculite insulation is shown by lab testing to contain 1% or more asbestos, it becomes a "regulated removal." However, because Zonolite(TM) brand vermiculite insulation is friable I strongly recommend that a homeowner treat it as a regulated asbestos removal if any amount of asbestos is found or if it is confirmed to be Zonolite(TM) insulation by the ZAI Trust test method, regardless of whether your state regulates vermiculite insulation as asbestos or not. This is because methods used during a non-regulated removal process could expose workers and household residents to airborne Libby Asbestos and spread asbestos contamination to other areas of the house. Moreover, a homeowner should only hire a state-licensed asbestos abatement contractor who has substantial previous experience removing vermiculite insulation as a regulated removal.
There is financial assistance for qualified homeowners from the Zonolite Attic Insulation (ZAI) Trust of 55% up to a maximum cost of up to $7500 (or a maximum reimbursement of $4125) associated with the professional removal of Zonolite Attic Insulation (ZAI) and re-insulation. In some cases, the ZAI Trust may also retroactively reimburse homeowners who paid for vermiculite removal prior to when the ZAI Trust became active on June 16, 2014. Visit the ZAI Trust website or contact the ZAI Trust directly for more details.
Mass save(R) currently has a program that for can provide "income qualified customers" with a Barrier Mitigation Grant grant of up to $7,000 towards the costs of professional removal of vermiculite insulation. Homeowner's can find more info here.
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) published Frequently Asked Questions About the Revised MassDEP Asbestos Regulation (310 CMR 7.15) on June 19, 2015 here.
To submit a comments to improve future editions, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that I am unable to answer questions about your specific situation, and I recommend that you consult with a state-licensed Home Inspector or Asbestos Inspector.
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