Crude and Expanded Vermiculite
Crude and Expanded Vermiculite


A Web Site Dedicated to the Dissemination
of News and Information about
Vermiculite and the Vermiculite Industry

Developed by The Vermiculite Institute

Links to Helpful and Useful Reports and News Releases
About Vermiculite Mines in the U.S. today

For many years, The Vermiculite Association has been recognized as the international association of companies involved in the vermiculite industry. It is the primary association for miners, expanding companies, and vermiculite consultants throughout the world, and it should continue to maintain this position. And, it should continue to be viewed as the primary voice of the vermiculite industry throughout the world!

During the last few years, however, the vermiculite industry in North America has been subjected to continual attacks from well-meaning, but misinformed newspaper and magazine articles and on national television shows. This publicity has prompted new studies and investigations by regulatory agencies like EPA, NIOSH, and OSHA; and it has caused severe economic injury to many small businesses that continue to mine and process vermiculite

Because The Vermiculite Association is an international association with many members who have not been affected by this bad publicity, and because it also has members who are being sued as a result of the publicity, it hasn't been willing or able to be as proactive as some might desire or expect. The Vermiculite Institute is being organized to provide a voice to those who desire a more proactive resource.

It is true the Libby, Montana vermiculite mine contained asbestos; and it is true that many miners and some plant workers who had regular exposure to the mine and to the crude vermiculite from that mine have developed health problems. But it is also true that vermiculite is not asbestos, that the Libby, Montana mine was closed in 1990, and that the vermiculite being mined and sold in North America today simply does not approach any of the regulatory limits in place for miners, plant workers, and consumers.

Almost all of the mine workers and plant workers who developed health problems because of the presence of asbestos in the Libby ore had filed health claims and legal suits long before the current spate of publicity. For instance, in the late 1970's, the first of several worker-related lawsuits had been filed. And knowledge of the presence of asbestos in Libby was well known: in the late 1970's, every railroad car transporting the crude vermiculite from Libby was labeled ("Product contains asbestos fibers. Avoid creating dust. Breathing asbestos dust may cause bodily harm..."), the Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that vermiculite could contain asbestos , a number of NIOSH studies were conducted on the workers during the 1980's, and articles appeared in a number of trade journals and newspapers during the period from 1978 to the early 1990's.

In response, other mines began to test regularly for asbestos, and were checked regularly by MSHA (Mining Safety Health Administration).

Meanwhile, there has been no evidence that the presence of expanded Libby vermiculite in homes across the country does or has ever caused health problems.

And yet, there has been a rash of bad publicity.

The current publicity has been a combination of some reporters who have been trying to sensationalize old news, others who have enjoyed being able to publicize a significant problem or issue concerning the W.R. Grace Company, some who simply have been misinformed or sloppy in their research, and still others who may be well meaning but were too trusting of the objectives and research of other reporters---and so they simply passed on what was misinformed and incorrect.

The outcome of all this publicity and concern, however, has been economic injury to many small businesses which mean well, who have carefully used only vermiculite which had been carefully tested for the presence of asbestos, and who have complied with all the current OSHA, MSHA, and EPA type regulations.

And so the Vermiculite Institute has been formed to counter-act as much of the bad publicity as it can, to be proactive in matters of regulatory concerns, and to function as a "political action committee" for the many smaller businessmen in the vermiculite industry who have been impacted by the spate of bad publicity we have received.

Working with other industries and concerns, the Vermiculite Institute may address issues being raised by regulators and legislators about the acceptable levels of asbestos in mines, in the workplace, and in consumer products. There are ambient levels of asbestos fibers throughout the world, and especially in the industrialized world. And yet, as a result of some of the misinformed and technologically inaccurate publicity vermiculite has received, some have raised the possibility of regulations prohibiting the presence of any asbestos fibers in all mined products. This may not be realistic. And some groups may have to begin working to prevent the damage and economic injury, which would occur if the trigger levels of asbestos fibers were lowered beyond reason and necessity.

June 2004

For more information, contact: The TVI Representative c/oThe Schundler Company or
Call: 732-287-2244 (phone) and/or 732-287-4185 (fax), or
Write: The Vermiculite Institute
c/o The Schundler Company,
10 Central Street, Nahant, MA 01908