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What Is Vermiculite Insulation?

Vermiculite is a naturally occurring mineral that has the unusual property of expanding into worm-like accordion shaped pieces when heated. The expanded vermiculite is a light-weight, fire-resistant, absorbent, and odorless material. These properties allow vermiculite to be used to make numerous products, including attic insulation.

Do I Have Vermiculite Insulation?

Vermiculite can be purchased in various forms for various uses. Sizes of vermiculite products range from very fine particles to large (coarse) pieces nearly an inch long. Vermiculite attic insulation is a pebble-like, pour-in product and is usually light-brown or gold in color. The pictures below show several samples of vermiculite attic insulation.

How Does Asbestos Cause Health Problems?

Asbestos can cause health problems when inhaled into the lungs. If products containing asbestos are disturbed, thin, lightweight asbestos fibres are released into the air. Persons breathing the air may breathe in asbestos fibres. Continued exposure increases the amount of fibres that remain in the lung. Fibers embedded in lung tissue over time may result in lung diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer, or mesothelioma. Smoking increases your risk of developing illness from asbestos exposure.

What Should I Do If I Have Vermiculite Attic Insulation?


Any disturbance has the potential to release asbestos fibres into the air. Limiting the number of trips you make to your attic and shortening the length of those trips can help limit your potential exposure. EPA and ATSDR strongly recommend that:

  • Vermiculite insulation is left undisturbed in your attic. Due to the uncertainties with existing testing techniques, it is best to assume that the material may contain asbestos.
  • You should not store boxes or other items in your attic if retrieving the material will disturb the insulation.
  • Children should not be allowed to play in an attic with open areas of vermiculite insulation.
  • If you plan to remodel or conduct renovations that would disturb the vermiculite, hire professionals trained and certified to handle asbestos to safely remove the material.
  • You should never attempt to remove the insulation yourself. Hire professionals trained and certified to safely remove the material.
Example of vermiculite insulation found in older homes

Example of vermiculite insulation found in older homes.

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