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Asbestos / Vermiculite

What are the health risks associated with asbestos exposure?

Download the Asbestos analysis form


Please feel free to contact us. Our qualified technicians can provide information regarding the sampling of materials potentially containing asbestos. The technicians are also available for on-site consultation where they can identify materials, collect samples and transport them to our laboratory.

As per Health Canada, asbestos exposure is considered a health risk only when fibres are suspended in the air we breathe. As long as asbestos fibres are not accessible, i.e. they are sealed within a product such as wall coverings, insulating sheets in good condition or in floor tiles, they do not represent a significant health risk To know more, please visit the following website.

The Provincial legislation regarding asbestos is reinforced by the la Loi sur la santé et sécurité du travail (LRQ., c. S-2.1) and constitutes an important part of the Code de sécurité pour les travaux de construction (r.6) and the Règlement sur la santé et la sécurité du travail (r.19.01). The ASP Construction, an organization related to the CSST, has established a security code for work or repairs carried out on asbestos containing materials (ACM). As per this security code, if the ACM are in good condition and no eventual repairs or renovations are envisioned, then these materials can remain in place and on site.

Are you thinking of renovating?

In order to protect workers, the characterisation of materials potentially containing asbestos is obliged by the Code de sécurité pour les travaux de construction, and must be implemented prior to carrying out any renovations that would liberate asbestos fibres into the air.

What is vermiculite?

Vermiculite is a mineral from the silicate family. As a result of its fibrous structure, vermiculite is capable of expanding when exposed to high heat and is therefore an excellent insulator. The commercialised form of vermiculite is expanded or exfoliated in nature and can be found acting as an insulator in attics and wall dividers etc.  In your attic, vermiculite insulation resembles popcorn in texture and is often golden or light brown in color.

What is the link between vermiculite and asbestos?

Certain deposits from where vermiculite was extracted could also contain asbestos. This is the case for the vermiculite deposits in Libby, Montana that were commercialised under the name brand Zonolite. Therefore, in a natural setting there is an association between vermiculite and asbestos.

Why conduct a vermiculite analysis?

A prolonged exposure to asbestos fibers is considered a health risk and is attributed to being the cause of certain cancers. It is possible that asbestos fibers are found in vermiculite insulation or suspended in the air of a home, for example. If vermiculite is present in a home it is imperative to have it analysed in order to determine if it contains asbestos, and if so, in what concentration. In Quebec, the concentration of asbestos cannot surpass 0.1%.

If you are worried that your insulation contains asbestos, samples can be delivered to our offices. However, in this case, the laboratory cannot certify the origin of the material. If the sampling is conducted by one of our professionals then the quality and traceability of the sample is guaranteed.

What ohter materials could contain asbestos?

Asbestos can be found in the following materials:

  • Plasters;
  • Insulating materials found in attics;
  • Cement mortars;
  • Insulating materials found in exterior walls;
  • Insulating materials found in false flooring in basements;

  • Square floor tiles made of vinyl asbestos;
  • False (dropped) ceilings:
  • Stucco;
  • Mechanical insulations;
  • Flocking process;
  • Tiles;


Should you wish to collect the sample yourself, what is the protocol to follow to ensure a safe and risk-free vermiculite sampling?

Prior to collecting a sample, we recommend that you:

  • Wear a protective mask (HEPA filter mask) that can be purchased at most hardware stores
  • Wear rubber or plastic gloves
  • Wear clothing that covers then entire body. After having collected and manipulated the samples, we recommend that you:
  • Rinse the exterior of your mask with water
  • Wash the clothing worn during sampling
  • Take a shower


How to collect and package a sample?

There are two options:

  1. Collecting one (1) sample composed of multiple sub-samples
  2. Collecting three (3) distinct samples to be analysed (the analysis will stop at the first positive and all remaining samples will be considered as containing asbestos)

If you think that the vermiculite is uniformly present and that its distribution is not random, then the first option shall suffice. However, if there exists any doubt, we suggest opting for the second choice. Once you have followed the safety protocol you can collect the sample(s) in one or three 25cm x 25cm ‘’Ziploc’’ bags.

  • If you have only one bag, please identify the contents (ex: sample 1 or attic sample) and indicate the date of sampling. Using a gardening shovel or a piece of cardboard, collect samples of vermiculite from 3 or 4 different areas in order to obtain a representative sample.
  • If you have three bags please identify them individually (location of samples and date of sampling). For example: attic-center, attic-back etc…Please avoid numbering the samples. Collect the samples from three different and distinct areas. Usually 3-4 cups of sample material per bag is required.


  • Once the sample is collected and the bag is identified, close the bag to lock out the air and place the bag in a second ‘’Ziploc’’ bag.
  • Fill out the analysis request form and deliver the sample (s) to our offices.

Download the Asbestos analysis form

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