The vermiculite you see today in packaging is from mines in Africa and several US locations that are not contaminated with tremolite asbestos. It's hard for me to get my students to understand that Mother Nature is not interested in quality control. Whenever you mine anything from the earth, it is going to vary in composition from mine to mine, and sometimes even from place to place in the same mine.
For example, talcum power is also mined from the earth. And the talc mined in upstate New York is contaminated with tremolite and actinolite in the fibrous form. Talc is also used in ceramic clays and glazes. Last week I did my pretrial deposition as an expert on my next trial for a potter's estate who died of mesothelioma. This will the third trial and my second for an artist potter. The first two juries awarded so much money to the Plaintiff that RT Vanderbilt closed their mine at the end of 2008.
But the talc sold for baby power and in makeup doesn't contain asbestos. Well, actually, that's not completely true. One study showed that there were few fibers seen in some of the talcs approved for cosmetic use.
And vermiculite mines should be carefully monitored to be certain that it is not contaminated with potentially toxic metals. In fact, ALL mineral mines need careful monitoring.
Beware of natural stuff.
In a message dated 11/12/2009 10:35:55 AM Eastern Standard Time, Diane.Amell**At_Symbol_Here**STATE.MN.US writes:
I must be missing something. After the W R Grace mess in Libby, MT and
NE Minneapolis, vendors are still shipping product in vermiculite? I
would think the potential liability from asbestos exposure would cause
them to use something else. (And trust me, there's plenty of attorneys
operating in this state that are on late night TV touting asbestos
- Diane Amell, MNOSHA
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