Owners with Zonolite vermiculite in their attics or other areas of the home should avoid disturbing the asbestos-containing insulation as much as possible. They should leave entrances to attics closed, avoid storing boxes or other materials in the attic and prevent children from playing in the space.
Vermiculite is a naturally occurring mineral that expands with heat, making it a good natural insulator. A mine near Libby, Montana, supplied over 70 percent of the vermiculite in the United States until 1990. Asbestos contaminates the material from this mine and makes it a health hazard if disturbed. When homeowners leave the material alone, the cancer-causing asbestos fibers normally remain in place and do not cause harm.
Homeowners who are considering renovations to their home that could disturb the vermiculite insulation should not attempt to remove it themselves. They should seek the help of professional asbestos contractors to remove the insulation if the project requires its removal. If it is possible to accomplish the task without removing the insulation, the owner should avoid disturbing it.
Lung disease often develops decades after exposure to asbestos fibers. People who smoke are more likely to develop diseases upon exposure than those who do not smoke.