People who don’t know whether their homes contain Zonolite Attic Insulation might consider hiring a home inspector to check, said Spokane attorney Darrell Scott.
“They could quickly identify it, and it would be peace of mind,” said Scott, who represents several Spokane County clients with Zonolite.
An Oct. 31 deadline is looming for property owners to file a proof of claim against Zonolite’s manufacturer, W.R. Grace & Co., which is trying to emerge from bankruptcy.
Zonolite contains shards of potentially deadly tremolite asbestos that can release fibers when the insulation is disturbed. For about 60 years, Zonolite was sold as low-cost attic insulation. W.R. Grace pulled it from the market in 1984.
The Oct. 31 deadline is “a line in the sand,” Scott said. If property owners don’t file by that date, they risk forfeiting future claims against W.R. Grace for the insulation’s removal costs.
“Three years from now, they might decide they want to remodel,” Scott said. “Or, we could have another ice storm. Water comes through the roof, and the insulation has to be removed.”
Zonolite removal costs can run $5 to $12 per square foot, Scott said.
This summer, W. R. Grace spent $4 million advertising the Oct. 31 filing deadline. But many people don’t know what kind of insulation they have in their attics, Scott noted.
Zonolite’s gray-gold granules are easy to identify, Scott said. However, the loose-fill insulation can be hidden underneath layers of newer insulation.
People should be cautious about venturing into their attics to check for Zonolite, Scott added. “If you have to open up an attic area, that creates a risk of exposure,” he said.
In 2003, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a Zonolite warning, telling people not to disturb the insulation. Certified experts should be hired for remodeling jobs that involve disturbing or removing Zonolite, the warning said.
Zonolite was made from vermiculite mined in Libby, Mont. Mining and processing of the asbestos-tainted mineral created a lung disease epidemic among the town’s residents. The needle-like fibers of tremolite asbestos can cause asbestosis and mesothelioma, a rare and fatal cancer of the lung lining.