Vermiculite/Asbestos scare exposed.

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By Vitticeps (Admin) on Friday, August 31, 2001 - 01:34 pm:

Ok, there has been much talk of problems attaining vermiculite and many reasons stated as to why it is getting scarce. In a thread in growing this concern was brought up agian. So, I did some research and found the real reason:

Over a decade ago, one of the hydrated laminar magnesium-aluminum-ironsilicate (vermiculite) mines, in Libby Montana, was determined to conatain asbestos. That mine was closed in 1990. There were a lot of law suits stemming from exposure to the asbestos in this mine dating back as far as the 1970's. Many of these law suits are still not settled today. Newsweek, McCalls, many newspapers, National Public Radio and 20/20 have all done segments on the sad stories of the miners and their families effected by exposure to the mine and the vermiculite produced there. These stories have created great confusion regarding vermiculite and asbestos through half truths and standard US media sensationalism. All products made from the output of that mine were pulled off the shelves many years ago. Due to the media attention and general ignorance of the American public, most major retailers pulled all brands of vermiculite off the shelves to avoid the myriad attacks from the media and public saftey activist groups. Most independent hardware stores and nurseries still carry it as they are less concerned with the media. It can still be found but it is definately harder to come by if you don't have many independently owned shops in your area. Nurseries (garden stores) are by far your best bet for finding it if the big chains have pulled it in your area.

So to make a long story short, vermiculite is hard to come by becuase the American public has been underinformed, misinformed, and lied to by the media and they just accept it without question.

If you would like to check it out yourself and get more of the details here are some of the links I found this information in:

By Lichen (Lichen) on Sunday, September 02, 2001 - 02:19 am:

the local hardware store here has always carried it, so it's never been a problem for us. Sad to see it's so hard for some to get it.

By Swilly (Swilly) on Monday, September 03, 2001 - 03:44 am:

i find it's very easy to obtain in my area all accept 4 the course type now that is a very hard thing to get unless u buy it in a 25lb. bag 4 50$ and im not goin there! i've been doin pretty well with the regular verm!!

By greenthumb (Greenthumb) on Tuesday, October 30, 2001 - 11:00 pm:

I was told by the people @ my local chain garden store (Agway) that they would not be getting anymore verm.
They said it was because production of verm causes polution.

I'm sure I saw a post around here about this.
I ordered 4 cubic feet of the stuff JIcase.

Anybody know what the F is goin' on?????

Will we need a new catagory---

--Growing without verm!--

By SYDYSTYK (Addict) on Wednesday, October 31, 2001 - 03:52 am:

the thread adresses whether or not they sell it, as opposed to whether or not they produce it, about two months ago they had a front page article here(my area) on verm and Libby, Montana. they said(may just be talk but i read it so ill share it) they said of all verm contains asbestos but milling it removes it, that was the towns problem this verm mine had a particularly nasty kind of asbestos. the town didnt know asbestos was bad(i think i still have it i'll look) but that still doesnt address the issue of the volume of pollution future production has(THIS IS BASED ON A NEWSPAPER I READ 2 MONTHS AGO)

By An guy (Boomer) on Wednesday, October 31, 2001 - 04:09 am:

Libby's been shut down for years.

Effects and supply chains are still being tracked, some got in some places that's still cropping up. But what is cropping up is the health problems from past exposure.

Libby products have been out of the chain for a longish while now. It's pretty near to being declared a Superfund site, so it's a pretty safe bet the verm you buy anywhere these days is safe.

Libbyans are having a hard time though. They knew asbestos was bad, pretty much, just weren't told how much they, as a town, were being exposed to, for the most part. And no info on toxic levels. Well, there's lots of versions of that, as you might guess- who knew what, when.

South of Libby, way south, in Dillon MT, is another verm mine. I've had occasion to go by there time to time- it's beautiful country, and I've never heard of nor seen any pollution problems associated with the mine.

Doesn't mean there aren't, just that I've never had occasion to notice it.

Any mine interrupts the local ecology. That's the downside.


By Nan (Nanook) on Wednesday, October 31, 2001 - 04:15 am:

Ya lost me there Syd. There is no significant pollution in the production of verm... You dig the mica out of the ground, chop the mineral to the correct size and heat it in an oven to puff it.

It is still produced, and my very recent research of the last hour shows the EPA has given verm the green light, some mines contain tiny traces of asbestos, but the EPA has been testing and they state the verm is safe. The mines have been tested. The mines are safe. Only one mine has been found to have a problem and that has been shuttered for over 10 years. Heating the mica ore is not a source of pollution, certainly less than say heating limestone to make concrete.

By SYDYSTYK (Addict) on Wednesday, October 31, 2001 - 04:59 am:

i'll look for the article, but the point i was trying to make, is that they said asbestos is in all verm, (but there are different asbestos content levels and different kinds of asbestos) but if there is even a little bit it still poses a pollution problem, not a big deal just reflecting upon what i read

By Nan (Nanook) on Wednesday, October 31, 2001 - 05:10 am:

I see what you are saying, but I was at the EPA site earlier and they clearly stated that it was safe.

Now the story you may be referring to is _old_ verm that orginated from the Libby mine. Verm was used for years for instance as an insulator for large walk in coolers and such. If you were to dismantle a cooler that was insulated with a foot of verm that orginated from the Libby mine before it was closed... You are correct, there would be an asbestos contamination problem.

But all verm currently produced and sold is safe, greenlighted by the EPA after testing.

By Timothy Leary (Timothyleary) on Wednesday, October 31, 2001 - 04:20 pm:

if people are having a hard time finding it now, it is becuase lots of stores carry it for seasons. Two or three places i used to be able to get it from told me they are "out for the season" These places were both big chain stores and little private stores, so...

By Nan (Nanook) on Wednesday, October 31, 2001 - 07:46 pm:

They can usually phone up their supplier and order up a big 4 cubic foot bag that they don't normally stock if you ask nicely.

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