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Soil Conditioners such as Vermiculite could pose asbestos hazard – mesothelioma


Conditioners Could Pose Asbestos Hazard

When we hear the
word “asbestos” we often think back on the controversy of the late
1970’s when it became common knowledge that asbestos was indeed a
human health hazard. Asbestos however, is still a relevant hazard today
in a number of different capacities. While most asbestos containing
products were banned by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and
regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency, unfortunately it still
exists in hundreds of older products as well as in trace amounts in
newly manufactured products. Among new products that may still contain
asbestos are soil retention enhancers, particularly vermiculite.

Vermiculite is mined
from natural deposits across the globe and has a myriad of uses not only
for commercial and private gardening, but also as an insulation
compound. Vermiculite forms over millions of years due to the weathering
of the mineral, biotite. Unfortunately, former biotite deposits are
often in close proximity to deposits of diopside, which upon being
subjected to the same weathering and age conditions becomes asbestos.

In Libby, MT one
particularly mine shipped hundreds of thousands of tons of
asbestos-contaminated vermiculite across the country, however, they were
not the only manufacturers of vermiculite to ship asbestos with their
products. Many other manufacturers were doing the same thing before EPA
testing and regulations finally forced them to limit the amount of
residual asbestos dust in the vermiculite.
danger asbestos notice

Today, most
vermiculite is safe. However, that is not to say it cannot contain
asbestos. Vermiculite which is accompanied by a great deal of dust
likely has residual asbestos in its contents and should be used with
caution. Current EPA regulations ban products which contain 1% or more
asbestos. Unfortunately even products containing less that 1% asbestos
are still extremely hazardous, particularly when in loose dust form as
vermiculite often is manufactured.

incidence is also known to be high in commercial gardeners and other
occupations which deal with large amounts of loose vermiculite.

exposure to asbestos-contaminated vermiculite can be avoided if
consumers follow simple precautions. 

Note the appearance of the
If it seems to carry a great deal of residual dust, dispose
of it outdoors. 

Most manufacturers of vermiculite mark their products
packaging with “Non Dusty” labels. These refined granules are often
slightly more expensive but they are certainly the safest.

information on



Environmental Protection Agency. EPA
Asbestos Materials Ban.1989

Consumer Product Safety Commission. 
Asbestos Consumer

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