1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Vermiculite and Cancer!

Discussion in 'Tarantula Questions & Discussions' started by David Burns, Oct 29, 2005.

  1. David Burns

    David Burns Arachnoprince Old Timer

    I am taking a course at a comunity college and our teacher showed us some pictures of fibres that are said to cause cancer. Included were pics of asbestos fibres and vermiculite fibres, as well as many others. He said vermiculite is dangerous if you breath the dust over a period of time.

    I have read many threads in which people have stated using vermiculite in their T tanks. I am not so worried about the Ts getting cancer because I haven't heard it was a possibility for them to get cancer. But If you are using it as a substrate I you might want to rethink it.

    Any additional info. anyone could provide would be welcome. Thanks.
  2. Empi

    Empi Arachnobaron Old Timer

    Wow that's interesting! And pretty scary! Last time I use that stuff for anything! Not that I use it for anything now really. Thanks for the info.
  3. Malkavian

    Malkavian Arachnolord Old Timer

    Sound's a little odd to me. There were at one time the libby, MOntana vermiculite mine was found to be contaminated with asbestos but it was shut down in 1990. Since then there has been a lot of confusion about the safety of the product.

    As widely used as it is in various things, I can't imagine it has much of a propensity to cause medical problems in anything but very heavy exposure levels.
  4. Jaygnar

    Jaygnar Arachnobaron Old Timer

    I've also heard that exposure to vermiculite dust over a long period of time can cause cancer. I don't know about the reality of risk though, I would think that if any research had shown the product to be carcinogenic, that there would have to be a warning placed on the product. When I purchase new brake pads for my car, there is a warning on the box stating that the pads contain asbestos and that you should wear proper safety equpment to avoid exposure to the dust.
    I realy don't get too worried over it. I just make sure that whenever I mess with pure vermiculite, the area is well ventilated and I don't directly breathe the dust.
  5. Empi

    Empi Arachnobaron Old Timer

    The polluted air we breath every day causes cancer too you know. I don't think there is anything we can do about it really.. I mean what doesn't cause cancer anymore! :mad:
  6. Varden

    Varden Arachnodemon Old Timer

    Twinkies. And if you should ever hear differently, kindly refrain from passing it on to me.
  7. Puppet Master

    Puppet Master Arachnoknight Old Timer

    Your teacher is a little off. Their are 2 types of vermiculite. their is the clean stuff used for gardening the stuff you use for your T's. and then their is the vermiculite used for insulation. it is treated with a bunch of chemicals and a long time ago it was mixed, and/or treated with aspestos fibers. now that stuff would cause cancer. But I have a hard time beliveing that the clean gardening vermiculite would cause cancer.
  8. David Burns

    David Burns Arachnoprince Old Timer

    The pics were Labeled: asbestos, vermiculite, etc. I would have thought that if the verm. was contaminated with something else it would have been added to the label. These were pics were of microscopic views, at that resolution they would have been able to separate the fibres, I think. I believe the Name of the vermiculite/ absestos combo was called Zonolite.

    I'm not saying I know for sure that it is bad I just thought it should have been brought up.
  9. Empi

    Empi Arachnobaron Old Timer

    Somebody in California needs to look at a bag of vermiculite and see if there is a warning label on it. Everything causes cancer in California and is clearly labeled with a warning. I would say if there is even a remote chance that it causes cancer it would be labeled in CA. Just an idea! :D
  10. Thoth

    Thoth Arachnoprince Old Timer

    There is a risk in breathing in any particulate matter to adversely affect your health. (Try breathing in sawdust from pressure treated wood, vermiculite dust would a pleasant change) Note your teacher said over a period of time. Its a matter of dosage. Most anything in large enough dosage is harmful. Too many vitamins build up to toxic levels. Drink too much water you can throw off your electrolyte balance and could die. Get the point.
    Like Malkavian mention the whole cancer vermiculite scare started because there was vermiculite that was contaminated with asbestos. Vermiculite (Mica) has a completely different chemical and crystal structure than asbestos. So vermiculite in of itself has yet to proven dangerous. Talcum powder is actually very similiar in structure to asbestos yet is considered safe.
    I'm more in danger of getting cancer because I'm from New Jersey (large uranium deposits under most of the state) than my exposure to vermiculite.

    I appreciate you concern for our well being but there is no real reason for concern. Zonolite is actually the name brand for the asbestos/vermiculite insulation.
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2005
  11. T. Dawson

    T. Dawson Arachnopeon

    I could be totally wrong on this, but isn't vermiculite made from micah? I read WAY too much, so then when a particular bit of info may become relivent it's been many years since I originaly read it thus I can't remember the exact content or where it was that I read it in the first place.
    And heck! I'm a smoker, so why should I care if vermiculite causes cancer or not! Every time I use it I am carefull not to breathe too much of it in, but that's more for the short term harmful effect than for any other reason. I know that cigs cause cancer and that it is a pointless/costly habit, but my use of vermiculite IS important for reptile egg incubation, so I'd rather give up smoking (uh huh, like thats going to happen) than to stop using vermiculite.
    Also, I work at a pizza joint where there is a constant cloud of a flower mixture. This is just the way it works when you toss dough the way its supposed to be. Now I'm just waiting for a class action law suit against this chain of stores by its employees because we developed cancer due to the flower. It'd make me laugh.
  12. David_F

    David_F Arachnoprince Old Timer

    From: http://www.epa.gov/asbestos/verm.html
  13. This is why you can't find it at Home Depot or Lowes any longer..., but I truly doubt that unless you work with large amounts of it and its dust daily that a casual user will get cancer from it. You likely have more a chance of getting cancer from the preservities that are in the food we eat every day. It mostly has to due with the way people sue over anything these days and the 2 stored mentioned don't want to take the chance. You can still get it at any gerden center and I've actually never noticed it being very dusty... On the other hand a nice little organic pesticide I use called diatomaceous earth is very dusty and likely way more dangerous to our health. Just put a slug on the stuff and watch how fast it dies...
  14. Scolopendra

    Scolopendra Arachnoknight Old Timer

    well at least there really isnt any threat for the T's, they dont actively breathe like we do! just dont breathe it in and there's no problem. the only time ive ever seen alot of dust from vermiculite is when ive stirred up the soil in my g.rosea's enclosure which for some reason i put vermiculite and peat in. dont know why about the verm. never moisten the soil...
  15. kyle_de_aussie

    kyle_de_aussie Arachnobaron Old Timer

    Damn! i mix vermiculite into more than one of my t's substrates.... think i'l go with perlite from now on ;)
  16. Thoth

    Thoth Arachnoprince Old Timer

    Don't use perlite with you ts. It poses a danger to your ts. It is basically volcanic glass that is heated causing the moisture in it to puff up (similar to popcorn) causing it become very porous and able to retain water, like a sponge. The problem is it is glass, and the dust from it are sharp little crystals which if ingested, can cause internal damage or get into the joints and cause fine cuts which could bleed out slowly. This is the same mechanism that diatomaceous earth uses to kill, if you look at it under a microscope it is sharp sillica crystals (shells of long dead microorganisms)

    Vermiculite is still commonly used everywhere for a whole host of things. Its just not easy to find at the retail level. Might have to get it online or from specialty garden centers.
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2005
  17. fscorpion

    fscorpion Arachnobaron Old Timer

    I think we are talking about vermiculite dust here. The vermiculite used for gardening is prepared and washed and it shouldn't pose any treath to humans, however, I don't know how smart is to use that stuff in you house...I don't use it...also, I have read that this dangerous vermiculite dust was produced by asbestos naturally contaminated vermiculite...well...who knows...
  18. kyle_de_aussie

    kyle_de_aussie Arachnobaron Old Timer

    Ive never had any trouble finding vermiculite its sold here at every garden supply store/nursery this news of it being a possible cause for cancer is a little disturbing tho :confused:
    And same goes for the news about the perlite jeeeez GLASS! thats gotta suck ive never used it myself yet but a hell of a lot of my friends and people i know use it and have recomended it to me i'l have to inform them of what youve told me
    Thankyou for the heads up on the perlite dude :cool:
  19. DaleGribble

    DaleGribble Arachnopeon

    All I know is that I have never seen anyone, ever, use vermiculite for any kinds of vertebrates, so there very well may be something to that claim. :?
    However, T's have been kept on it since the beginning and I doubt anyone's has had one struck down by mesothelioma, so I wouldn't stop using it with T's. Just be sure to keep it damp when you are working with it, or buy a dust mask if you are using large quantities (like filling a big tank).
  20. Mr.Scorpion

    Mr.Scorpion Arachnobaron Old Timer

    People Who Use Vermiculite May Not Be Happy...

    There's evidence that vermiculite contains a dangerous, asbestos-like substance that can cause lung problems in humans. I know lots of people use it in their terrariums. Better change your substrate.