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Is Vermiculite dangerous

Hi all i was just wanting to know if Vermiculite is safe to use for growing vegetables.I was told it contains asbestos.Im almost new to gardening..Ive been gardening for just over 2 years but never used the stuff lol i have normally used grit but have seen alot of gardeners using vermiculite and perlite

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  • sotongeoffsotongeoff Posts: 9,802

    I have never head about the asbestos connection-in my opinion if it were a danger then it would not be made freely available-and it is.

    This explains more

    http://www.thegardensuperstore.co.uk/acatalog/Vermiculite_in_the_Garden.html

  • Paul NPaul N Bearsted, KentPosts: 300

    Only if you try to eat itimage

  • Gary HobsonGary Hobson Posts: 1,892

    I do use Vermiculite myself. I use it to cover germinating seeds.

    I had never heard of any connection with asbestos. Although, on reflection, Vermiculite is quite dusty, as you handle it.

    I'm no expert on asbestos, and related issues.

    However, I found this on the web:

    "Mesothelioma [an aggressive cancer that is known only to be caused by asbestos exposure] incidence is also known to be high in commercial gardeners and other occupations which deal with large amounts of loose vermiculite. Note the appearance of the vermiculite. If it seems to carry a great deal of residual dust, dispose of it outdoors. Read the label as most manufacturers of vermiculite mark their products packaging with “Non Dusty” labels. Based on current information, there is no evidence that vermiculite currently available for horticultural purposes (e.g. potting plants) is a health risk when used as directed."

    I suppose that the key phrase is 'when used as directed'.

    So don't shake up a bag in a confined space, and then breathe the stuff.

  • granmagranma Posts: 1,903

    I .use this instead of grit, But I was told recently that it is used by builders as an insolation,  so maybe there is some truth in it. On saying that, it does help the seeds - maybe by keeping them warm !

  • ok thank you all for your replies

  • WelshonionWelshonion Posts: 3,114

    There is absolutely no connection with Vermiculite and asbestos.  Don't start that sort of a panic - see one of the posts above - unless you really do know what you are talking about.  The Web is a wonderous place, but it has a lot of rubbish on it too.

    Sometimes information should be taken with a pinch of salt. 

  • grannyjannygrannyjanny Posts: 34

    I thought it was a type of vulcanic rock.

  • Gary HobsonGary Hobson Posts: 1,892

    The issue seems to be that some vermiculite used to be extracted from mines that also contained asbestos. Consequently some vermiculite was contaminated with asbestos.

    There are more details here: US Environmental Protection Agency

    That report says that the manufacturers have been working to address these problems.

    So the orignal poster was correct in saying that there was a connection. Hopefully, the vermiculite sold today is safe.

  • LilAmbarLilAmbar Posts: 43

    The horticultural vermiculite on sale now is not thought to pose a health risk but to give a potted history to some of the information that you find on the internet... 

    The vermiculite/asbestos connection comes from a public health emergency caused by a vermiculite mine at Libby, Montana.  The public health emergency is well documented in both US Environmental Protection Agency documents and in medical literature.  Being a natural product, vermiculite can contain lots of different minerals and other substances and the composition varies between different deposits.  This particular mine was found to have high levels of amphibole (a type of asbestos) contamination. The mine closed down in 1990 before the contamination was identified.  The vermiculite from this mine was largely used for insulation so is still present in many buildings.  

    There doesn't seem to be any need to be concerned with the vermiculite that gardeners use but with any dusty product, it's never going to be a good idea to shake the bag and breath it in.

  • could someone please tell me the difference between vermiculite and perlite?  I was told one had more stuff in it to feed the plants? I use them to lighten compost for seedlings and young plants and also to cover seeds sometimes.

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