Zonolite – Attic Insulation or Asbestos Killer

Written by on August 12, 2014

Zonolite. Attic insulation or asbestos killer? The name sounds innocent enough. Gives off the aura of something that is airy and benign, even light and orderly. Nothing could be further from the truth. Zonolite is the trademark used in connection with a carcinogenic type of attic insulation manufactured for fifty years between the 1940s and 1990s here in the United States.

While Zonolite is the trademark, the actual material from which it was manufactured originated from vermiculite, a natural mineral found in mines around the world. Some vermiculite is harmless. The problem is that the vermiculite mined to make Zonolite all came from one particular mine, and that mine was replete with asbestos.

The mine was in Libby, Montana. And from World War II until the Bush administration, companies like W. R. Grace and E. N. Allen mined as much as two hundred tons of asbestos laden vermiculite from the mine every year.

How does this history lesson affect you? Well, for starters, most estimates suggest that as many as 35 million homes, offices and other buildings were constructed using Zonolite insulation. If you live in a house constructed in the above-referenced interim half a century, chances are there is vermiculite up in your attic. Even left undisturbed, that can lead to asbestosis and other related asbestos diseases over your time in residence.

Let me repeat that - undisturbed. If you unknowingly have gone up in your attic and disturbed it, which is easy enough to do as it was often laid down, or blown-in in gravel-like pebbles, your exposure risk explodes. Disturbing those pebbles releases microscopic asbestos fibers into the air. Once airborne, those fibers are inhaled into your lungs where they embed themselves in your pulmonary tissue. Over time, they can lead to asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma, among other asbestos diseases.

And what if you are not just a homeowner, but a contractor or tradesman actively involved in its mining, manufacture, or installation back in the day? Sadly, your odds of developing asbestos disease have just taken another sizable jump. While it is now known that the company leaders of W. R. Grace knew of the health risks involved back when the mine was operational, their employees, and those in the trades, did not. You therefore likely worked in and around it without any masks, gloves or any protection whatsoever.

Even if not yet diagnosed, please understand that the latency period for some asbestos diseases can be as much as fifty years. Seeing as how its production only stopped in the 1990s, that means asbestos, lung cancer, and mesothelioma will unfortunately continue to be diagnosed from Zonolite exposure up through the 2040s, if not beyond.

Finally, while millions of homes were constructed those many years ago using Zonolite as an attic insulation, many of those have already been rehabbed or torn down. Or destroyed by fire or natural disaster. If you are a contractor, tradesmen, firefighter or EMT involved in those situations, you too have likely been, or will be, exposed to Zonolite. If so, you have been exposed to asbestos and all the hideous health risks it carries.

We at Asbestos Disease, LLC understand this. We also understand the fear, confusion and anger that come with all of it. We are a network of medical, legal and emotional counselors standing ready to help. Whether it is treatment options or legal remedies, financial compensation or emotional support, we have seen it all when it comes to asbestos and know well how to help. Please give us a call or visit our website at www.asbestosdisease.com to find out more.