724, Bériault, suite B,
Longueuil (Québec) J4G 1R8

1250, av. de la Station, casier 6
Shawinigan, Qc
G9N 8K9

François Hamel, geologist



Patrick Usereau, geologist



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Some vermiculite insulating materials may contain amphibolic asbestos fibers. These products, if manipulated during maintenance, renovations or demolition, can be a health hazard. However, there is no proven health risk if the insulating materials are sealed between wall or floor panels, if they are contained in an attic or if they are not airborne.

Translated from : Isolant de vermiculite pouvant contenir de l’amiante amphibolique, Votre santé et vous (Santé Canada)


Following the recommendations of the laboratory and in order to properly assess the materials, three (3) isolated samples will be taken and subsequently submitted for analysis, until a positive result is obtained. Therefore, the analysis process ends as soon as a positive result is obtained or until all three samples have been assessed.

The base rate is 250$ plus applicable taxes (including the analysis of the first sample) with a supplement of 90$ plus applicable taxes for each additional sample analyzed. Sample analysis will be conducted according to recognized IRSST 244 standards.

A sample may also be submitted directly by the client. The cost for analysis would then be  145$ plus applicable taxes. However, we cannot guarantee the source of the vermiculite in the report.

Samples may be brought in directly to our laboratory or mailed to the same postal address, from anywhere in the Province of Quebec. In that case, the sample identification form (available here) must be printed, completed and included with the sample. Because it features instructions for sampling, the form should be read carefully.

Samples must be mailed to our laboratory at 724-B, rue Bériault in Longueuil (Quebec), J4G 1R8.


In order to interpret the obtained results, the concentration in harmful asbestos fibers will be measured and compared with permitted levels, stated in article 62 of the règlement sur la santé et la sécurité au travail (included in the provincial law on health and safety in the workplace). The article indicates that any asbestos dust or any friable material waste with a minimum asbestos level of 0,1% must comply with certain manipulation and disposal regulations.


Vermiculite is a mineral resembling mica and is mined worldwide. It is used in the making of various commercial and consumer goods for its insulating and fireproof properties. The specific mineral of concern was extracted from the Libby mine in the state of Montana, during the years 1920 to 1990. It was commercialized under the brand name Zonolite® Attic Insulation and, possibly, other names in Canada. Vermiculite from that particular mine may contain amphibolic asbestos. The Libby mine supplied the largest part of the world market in vermiculite insulation.

Vermiculite products from the Libby mine have rarely been used as of the mid-1980’s and have no longer been available in Canada for over a decade. Vermiculite produced before 1990 does not necessarily contain amphibolic asbestos. However, until demonstrated otherwise, it is safe to assume that a building insulated with older vermiculite materials, could have amphibolic asbestos in it.

Translated from : Isolant de vermiculite pouvant contenir de l’amiante amphibolique, Votre santé et vous (Santé Canada)




Although the global percentage of amphibolic asbestos in vermiculite materials may be slight, the concentration in the air could increase if materials are moved or manipulated.

Asbestos is not a health threat, unless the fibers are inhaled. If asbestos fibers are contained or embedded in materials such as wall panels or flooring, there is no significant health risk.

The effects of asbestos vary according to :

  • the concentration of fibers in the air;
  • the duration of exposure;

  • the frequency of exposure;

  • the size of inhaled asbestos fibers;

  • the moment at which first exposure occurred;

    If inhaled in large quantities, asbestos fibers can cause l’asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer. The connection between asbestos exposure and other types of cancers is not clearly established.

    Translated from : Isolant de vermiculite pouvant contenir de l’amiante amphibolique, Votre santé et vous (Santé Canada)


Reducing risks

The best way to reduce the risk of exposure to amphibolic asbestos is to not move or manipule vermiculite insulation in any way. If the fibers are contained and are not airborne, the risk is minimal.

Measures to take in the case of vermiculite insulation in an attic  :

  • Do not allow children to play in an attic in which exposed vermiculite can be found and inform workers who might perform a job in the attic about the possible presence of amphibolic asbestos;
  • Do not store objects in the attic if you intend to manipulate or move the insulation materials;

  • If it is necessary to go into the attic, make sure the appropriate respiratory mask is worn. Stepping on insulation materials must be avoided so as to not disturb the fibers in the materials. Stay as briefly as possible;

  • Conventional protective masks are ineffective in countering asbestos fibers;

  • If the insulation materials contain vermiculite and you decide to remove them, hire trained professionals. Consult the Health Canada website for more information. DO NOT attempt to remove the materials yourself;

  • If you are planning renovations or repairs that might disturb the insulating materials, speak to a trained professional beforehand;

  • Seal-off any cracks or openings in the ceiling of rooms below, where insulating materials could seep (For example, draft-proof openings, the outlining of ceiling lights and of the attic hatch);

  • As a precaution, seal-off all cracks and openings if you suspect there is vermiculite insulation in the walls. For example, draft-proof window frames and door frames, along baseboards and the outlining of power outlets.

    Translated from : Isolant de vermiculite pouvant contenir de l’amiante amphibolique, Votre santé et vous (Santé Canada)