Tainted insulation a risk in older homes
     If a grayish, pebble-like substance lurks silently in the attic of an older home, ignorance on the part of the owner will not work out to be bliss. In some homes built between 1919 and 1990, insulation for attics and walls was provided by a fire-resistant mineral called vermiculite, which was poured into gaps between joists and studs. Looking somewhat like rough, oversized kitty litter, vermiculite itself is harmless, but the cancer-causing asbestos usually mixed with it is not.

     According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, about 70 percent of all vermiculite sold in the U.S. came from a single mine in Libby, Mont., that was contaminated by asbestos. The mineral was sold commercially under the brand name Zonolite. Homeowners with vermiculite should "assume this material may be contaminated with asbestos and be aware of steps you can take to protect yourself and your family,'' the EPA recommends. As long as vermiculite remains in an area where it is unlikely to be disturbed, the risk of airborne asbestos exposure is much less likely. EPA also recommends people do not open their walls to check vermiculite.

     "Generally, EPA's advice is do not disturb the material. If it is removed, use a certified asbestos abatement contractor," said agency spokesman Elias Rodriguez. "Also, you need to consider if any disturbance of the insulation — possibly by a contractor doing work in your attic — may result in the fibers being deposited into other areas of your house where an exposure might be possible."

     "But when someone wants to sell a such a home, the issue will have to be dealt with", said Cathy Griffin, president of the Greater Capital Association of REALTORS. "If you know you have vermiculite, that is something that you would have to disclose as part of any sale," she said. And if a homeowner is not aware of it, that likely won't be the case for long, as the potential buyer will probably hire a house inspector, who will find it, she added. When vermiculite is found during sale negotiations, it leaves the seller facing some expensive choices. They can decide to pay to have it removed, which can run from $15,000 to $30,000, or negotiate a reduction in the sale price to reflect the new buyer's responsibility to deal with it at some future date, said Griffin. "Sellers are really much better off learning as much about their property as they can before trying to sell it," she said. Otherwise, a last-minute surprise by vermiculite can cause delays, and possibly even the loss of a potential sale. The owner of a 1930s-era Capital Region home, left to him in his parents' estate, learned of vermiculite contamination when he was readying the house for sale. The owner asked not to be identified, and that the house location not be specified, in this story. "It turned up in the home inspection, and now, it is costing $20,000 to get rid of it," said the owner. "The potential buyer is aware, and we agreed that we would have it taken out at our expense.''

     Professional asbestos-removal firms can be expensive, but there is a way to help reduce the bill. The Zonolite Attic Insulation Trust was set up in 2014 by W.R. Grace, the company that has owned the Montana vermiculite mine since 1963. The fund was started with about $24 million to help homeowners and business owners partially cover the expense of vermiculite removal, said fund trustee Edward Cottingham. In coming years, more money will be added until the fund will have had a total of $140 million available. So far, the fund has helped pay for about 280 cleanups nationwide totalling about $800,000, at an average settlement of about $2,800. Under the rules of the trust, homeowners can qualify for a payment of 55 percent of cleanup costs, including new insulation, up to a maximum of $4,125 on a maximum-allowed remediation bill of $7,500. To be eligible for a payment, it must be proved that the vermiculite came from Zonolite, he said. That can be proven by taking a small sample of the mineral and mailing it to the South Carolina-based trust for analysis. A Zonolite bag on the property is also considered proof, he added. So far, in New York state, the trust has paid 14 claims, and another 70 claims remain pending. A total of 244 claims have been filed, and about 80 percent of all vermiculite samples submitted by New York homeowners came from the Zonolite mine, added Cottingham. Most home inspectors will recommend that vermiculite be removed prior to any sale closing, said John Cahill, a local real estate lawyer. "And most buyers are going to want the seller to handle the removal," he said. And Cahill had a word of advice to people who may be so in love with a property that they are willing to overlook vermiculite "When you go to resell someday, you will have to face this problem."

 

More Information

Concerns?

Learn more about how to get financial aid to remove vermiculite from the Zonolite Attic Insulation Trust, which is online at http://www.zonoliteatticinsulation.com/. A claim form can be downloaded.

 



Source: http://m.timesunion.com/homestyle-old/article/Tainted-insulation-a-risk-in-older-homes-but-6307426.php

Share This Posting
LinkedIn
Google Plus
Facebook
Twitter
Tumblr
Pinterest
Reddit
Blogger
E-Mail
Gmail
Yahoo
20 Years Of Expert Local Experience
Contact Us Today
Copyright © Rochester Environmental & Construction Group 2017 - All rights reserved
Web Design & SEO by Scriptable Solutions.