New Hand-Held Spectrometer Speeds Up Vermiculite Testing

A new hand-held tool was recently created by scientists with the United States Geology Survey (USGS) to determine if vermiculite insulation contains amphibole asbestos, which is the main cause of mesothelioma, an aggressive form of cancer. This new hand-held spectrometer provides home inspectors a time-saving technique for a process that requires samples to be sent to off-site laboratories to determine if asbestos is present.

Although vermiculite is no longer used in new construction, an estimated one million homes in the country currently still have it, according to the USGS. In its naturally occurring state, vermiculite is actually perfectly safe. However, 75% of it came from Libby, Montana, where the mineral became contaminated with toxic amphibole asbestos. Vermiculite from other locations, such as Virginia, South Carolina, and China are generally safe and asbestos is rarely found in it.

The new hand-held spectrometer identifies the source of the sample, examining differences in elemental composition that are measured by electron probe microanalysis. With the spectrometer, 52 vermiculite samples were examined and nearly two dozen of the samples from Libby contained asbestos, while little or none was found in samples from the four other sites.

Vermiculite is Generally Found in Attics

The vermiculite from Libby was mined for over 50 years, ending in 1990. The insulation brand, known as Zonolite, is often found in residential attics. How did the vermiculite in Libby become contaminated? It was mined in a location that was in such dangerous proximity to asbestos deposits that much of it became mixed with asbestos fibers, ultimately causing the deaths of hundreds of residents in the area and thousands more who contracted deadly asbestos-related diseases.

The Benefits of this New Tool

Having access to this kind of technology will also eliminate uncertainty regarding insulation during home renovation projects. Remember, no amount of asbestos is safe, so if any of the insulation was disturbed during a project, it could harm anyone who is exposed to it.

Unfortunately, it might still take time before the use of this tool is widely available. Despite the fact that it was patented in 2014, it has never been used commercially, though it is expected that the licensing procedure might get a boost from its appearance in American Mineralogist. The price of the tool is still too expensive for an individual homeowner to have since it is projected to cost about $50,000. A home inspection company, on the other hand, might consider it worth the price since it would be able to increase efficiency.

Mesothelioma Lawyers in Florida

Asbestos is harmful at any level and, if you or a loved one was exposed to it, resulting in the development of mesothelioma, you have a right to hold the responsible party accountable. At The Ferraro Law Firm, our personal injury team of attorneys in Florida serve clients throughout the state of Florida and across the nation. Backed by over 30 years of experience, you can be confident in our ability to effectively represent your case.

For the skilled and aggressive representation you deserve, call us today at (888) 554-2030 to schedule your free initial case evaluation.

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