Green Home Building and Sustainable Architecture

Sustainable architecture is an exciting and important field, with many people reviving traditional methods of building and others creating innovations to established practices. Kelly Hart, webmaster of the popular website www.greenhomebuilding.com, posts text and photos featuring what he discovers from around the world.

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Location: Crestone, Colorado, United States

Kelly Hart has been involved with green building concepts for much of his life. He has also worked in various fields of communication media, including still photography, cinematography, animation, video production and now website development. Kelly has lived in an earthbag/papercrete home that he built and consults about sustainable building design.

March 06, 2007

Vermiculite and Asbestos

I have often recommended that folks who want to build with earthbags consider filling the bags with a natural insulating material in order to provide a well-insulated structural envelope. Among the materials that I have advocated is crushed volcanic stone (such as scoria), perlite and vermiculite.

Recently I was brought to task for suggesting the use of vermiculite: "Vermiculite or "Asbestose" as it is better known, is a well-documented product for its cause of lung cancer and silicosis-like effect on tissues. I would hope that you would mention these particular warnings to anyone that might use the "Vermiculite" idea from your page."

I had not heard of this fact, and was obviously concerned about advocating the use of something potentially harmful to one's health. In doing some on-line research into the question, I discovered that pure vermiculite does not contain asbestos, but that there was a period of time when asbestos contaminated vermiculite mined in Libby, Montana did contain some asbestos. This contaminated vermiculite found its way into some residential insulation products sold up to about 1996 in the U.S. and Canada. If disturbed, this insualtion can become a health hazard if the dust is breathed. That mine in Libby has been closed down for several years and is no longer producing this contaminated vermiculite.

Current sources of vermiculite are carefully monitored for this potential problem, especially because of the alert that has been issued by the U.S. EPA. It is my understanding that unless you go digging in someone's attic to obtain the old contaminated vermiculite, there is little danger in using newly available vermiculite.

Here are some of the links that substantiate this:
http://www.schundler.com/verm-asb.htm
http://www.asbestosnetwork.com/news/nw_053003_epa_vermiculite.htm
http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/diseases/vermiculite.html
http://www.radonpro.com/Vermiculite.htm
http://www.karmanos.org/app.asp?id=884

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

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11:31 PM  
Anonymous northerninsulation said...

I agree with this blog, whenever you are wanting to create earth bags then you should use as much natural resources as possible. This is so you are reducing the risk of any harmful substances from being released.

5:45 AM  

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