If vermiculite insulation sold as zonolite insulates your home’s attic or walls, there’s a very good chance it’s contaminated with asbestos. If your job was to insulate homes with it, or you spent a lot of time in your attic, you may have inhaled or swallowed asbestos fibers, opening the door to a possible asbestos-related health condition.
Satterley & Kelley, PLLC, helps those with severe diseases and cancers caused by asbestos obtain compensation for what they’ve endured. If you think zonolite may have caused your injuries, call our Louisville office at 855-385-9532 to learn more about your legal rights and how to protect them.
What is Zonolite Insulation?
Zonolite is a loose-fill vermiculite insulation commonly used in residential and commercial buildings, mainly in the mid-20th century. Vermiculite is a mineral mined from deposits in Libby, Montana, and other places.
Zonolite is the brand name for vermiculite insulation produced and sold by W.R. Grace & Company. Over time, zonolite became a generic name for vermiculite insulation.
Vermiculite expands when heated, making it suitable for insulation. It was used in attics and walls to reduce heat transfer between a structure’s interior and exterior.
The vermiculite used in zonolite from Libby is contaminated with asbestos. As of early 2023, several thousand people have been sickened by asbestos due to the mine, and at least 400 have died, reports the Great Falls Tribune.
More than 2,600 area homes, businesses, and other properties were cleaned up for about $600 million under the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund program for hazardous sites. The mine closed in 1990, with the cleanup starting ten years later.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral. It’s composed of fine, durable, heat, fire, and chemical-resistant fibers. Asbestos was widely used in various industries for centuries, often because it was an effective insulator and was considered a way to fire-proof structures.
Why Does Zonolite Have Asbestos?
Most asbestos-containing products were intended to have asbestos in them. Zonolite is like talcum powder because asbestos is an unwanted part of the insulation. One reason companies producing these products face legal actions is that they were aware of asbestos’ presence, its ability to harm users, and their failure to stop production and or warn users.
Zonolite insulation contains asbestos because it used vermiculite ore naturally contaminated with asbestos fibers. Some vermiculite deposits, especially those from the Libby mine, the source of most of the vermiculite used for zonolite, have significant amounts of asbestos mixed in.
Why is Asbestos Hazardous?
Its light, microscopic fibers are easily inhaled and swallowed. They become stuck in the lungs and other parts of the body, leading to severe, disabling, and fatal conditions that may take decades to develop. Asbestos’ strong and durable fibers withstand the body’s attempts to destroy them, causing scar tissue, inflammation, and genetic mutations that cause cancer.
Asbestos, lung cancer, and pleural mesothelioma are all lung-related:
- Asbestosis: This chronic lung condition is caused when asbestos fibers result in severe lung tissue scarring and inflammation. It leads to breathing problems and decreased lung function
- Lung Cancer: Asbestos exposure greatly increases the risk of developing lung cancer. It can take years or decades for asbestos-related lung cancer to develop
- Pleural Mesothelioma: This is a rare and aggressive cancer primarily affecting the lining of the lungs (pleura) and chest cavity
Mesothelioma can also affect the linings of the heart, abdominal organs, and abdominal cavity. Larynx and ovarian cancers are also linked to asbestos exposure. Asbestos is a danger to those who worked directly with related products like zonolite, but family members may be exposed to fibers when work clothes contaminated with them are worn home.
What Should I Do If Zonolite’s in My Home?
If you suspect your house contains zonolite or another vermiculite insulation with asbestos, approach the situation carefully to ensure your and your family’s safety. Here are some things you should and shouldn’t do:
- Don’t Disturb the Material: Moving the material may release asbestos into the air
- Isolation: If it’s in the attic, stay away as much as possible. If you must go there, stay as short a time as possible.
- Testing: Contact an abatement company to have the material tested. Most, but not all, zonolite has asbestos
- Abatement: Depending on your home and what you want to do with it, professional abatement or leaving it alone are options. If you want to remodel your home or repairs are needed where zonolite’s located, removal by trained and well-equipped professionals may be the better option. Otherwise, it may be best to leave it as is. If you sell your home, you may be obligated to inform potential buyers of the issue
It’s not unusual for older homes to have asbestos in them. Fibers pose a potential health risk, but you may be able to safely manage that risk or eliminate it with abatement.
Are You Injured, or Was a Family Member Killed, By Zonolite Exposure? Call Us Today for A Free Attorney Consultation
We are your boots on the ground if you live in Kentucky and suffer an asbestos-related injury like mesothelioma, lung cancer, or asbestosis. The Satterley & Kelley, PLLC, office is in Louisville, and we handle cases throughout the state. Call us at 855-385-9532 or complete our contact form to schedule a free initial consultation.