Cost and turnaround time

If sampled by Multitest

Cost including report and laboratory certificate:

  • Sampling and report in compliance with CNESST requirements: $195
  • Laboratory analysis: $100 per sample analyzed

If sampled by the client

Cost including report and laboratory certificate:

  • Report: $95
  • Laboratory analysis: $100 per analysed sample

Turnaround time

  • Results in 1 to 2 business days
  • Emergency service available

Questions? Appointment?

You can call us at 514 990-2063 or fill out the form below and we will contact you as soon as possible.

test quality and
credibility

The test has greater credibility if the samples are taken by Multitest—this guarantees the traceability of samples referenced in the written report.

The laboratory is ISO 17025 accredited and recognized by the Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail (IRSST). Multitest as well as the laboratory are covered by errors and omissions liability insurance.

What is it?

Vermiculite insulation (marketed from 1920 to 1990 mainly under the Zonolite brand), which was often used in attics, can contain asbestos fibres that are hazardous to health.

We recommend taking three samples to ensure greater accuracy. Three samples placed in the same bag will have less scientific value because any asbestos contained in the samples will be diluted. This could produce a false negative result.

An air test is recommended after performing work that involves removing asbestos-containing vermiculite.
Click here for further details about air testing.

Learn more about our vermiculite tests

Purpose of vermiculite testing

Vermiculite testing consists of performing laboratory testing of samples to determine whether they contain asbestos, and if so, the type and quantity. The acceptable threshold (standard) is less than 0.1% under Québec regulations (Regulation Respecting Occupational Health and Safety, S-2.1, r.13).

Vermiculite testing methodology

The laboratory analysis is performed in accordance with the analytical method prescribed in Québec—method 244 of the Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail (IRSST). The evaluation consists of determining whether asbestos fibres are present in the samples submitted for analysis.

  1. Sampling
    Using protective equipment, the Multitest technician carefully takes samples from three different locations in the space to be examined (attic, walls or subfloor) and notes them on the sampling report. The technician writes down his observations and notes the location of the samples on a diagram. This document is included in the final report.
  2. Laboratory analysis
    The chemist determines whether the vermiculite contains asbestos.
  3. Written report
    Multitest provides a summary report that includes our recommendations, the laboratory certificate of analysis and our sampling report.

Three samples recommended

We have developed a specific procedure in order to ensure useful and credible reports. We therefore draw your attention to three important points:

  1. As the amount of asbestos in vermiculite is very low (generally between 0.1% and 5%) and is distributed unevenly in attics, we recommend taking three samples to ensure greater accuracy. In our opinion, a single sample that tests negative is not sufficient as it could be a false negative result. Experience has shown us that the second or third sample tests positive in around 10% of cases. In all cases, you only pay for the analyzed samples as the chemist’s job is complete once the first sample has tested positive.
  2. CAUTION: Three samples placed in the same bag will have less scientific value because any asbestos contained in the final sample will be diluted. This could produce a false negative result.
  3. It would be preferable to have the samples taken by Multitest. Among other advantages, this guarantees the traceability of samples in the final report. Our professional liability insurance applies when we take the samples.

The problem

Health Canada issued a notice on vermiculite insulation in spring 2004. This insulation is used mainly in attics. Vermiculite could contain asbestos fibres that are harmful to health if the insulation is disturbed and fibres become airborne in the inhabited part of the building.

What is vermiculite?

Vermiculite is a mica that expands to around twelve times its initial volume when exposed to high temperatures. The heating process turns it into a lightweight material that is ideal for use as insulation in attics, walls and under floors.

Vermiculite containing asbestos was extracted from the Libby mine in Montana (United States) and sold in Canada from 1920 to 1990 mainly under the Zonolite brand.

Health risks

Under certain conditions, asbestos fibres could cause serious lung diseases and even cancer. Health Canada advises that the best way to reduce the risk of asbestos exposure is to avoid disturbing vermiculite insulation in any way. Removing the insulation yourself is not recommended.

Vermiculite has a low asbestos content—generally between 0.1% and 5%. Health Canada notes that there is no significant health risk if vermiculite containing asbestos is present in an unused attic and isolated from the inhabited part of the house, or sealed behind walls or the floor. It is important to make sure that asbestos fibres do not become airborne in the inhabited parts of the building by sealing off any gaps, cracks or holes.

Obligation to decontaminate

There is no legal obligation in Québec to remove vermiculite insulation that contains asbestos. However, when making a real estate transaction, some buyers:

  • Do not want to be faced with this problem when they later have to sell;
  • Are concerned about possible risks to their health; or
  • Plan to carry out renovations that would disturb the insulation in question.

50% of vermiculite tests are positive

Around 50% of buildings containing vermiculite test positive, meaning that the insulation contains asbestos.

Impact on property value

Notwithstanding Health Canada’s opinion that vermiculite containing asbestos does not pose a significant health hazard, experience has shown us that there is a direct negative impact on property value. Certain buyers:

  • do not want to be faced with this problem when they later have to sell;
  • are concerned about possible risks to their health; or
  • plan to carry out renovations that would disturb the insulation in question.

Remediation costs around $10/ft2 (or around $8,000 to $12,000 depending on surface area, type of construction, attic height, etc.), including removal of contaminated insulation, air testing to confirm the successful completion of the work, and re-insulation.

Which buildings are affected?

All types of buildings (commercial and residential) built or renovated from around 1920 to 1995.

How many buildings are affected?

Unfortunately, there is no reliable and accurate data available on this subject. Several hundred thousand buildings in Canada and the United States are insulated with vermiculite.

What regions are affected?

All of Québec, Canada and the United States. Multitest can analyze vermiculite samples from all of these regions. However, the acceptable standards vary according to jurisdiction.

Cost of remediation work

Companies specializing in the removal of materials containing asbestos charge around $10/ft2 (or around $8,000 to $12,000 depending on surface area, type of construction, attic height, etc.), including the removal of contaminated insulation, air testing to confirm the successful completion of the work, and re-insulation.

We do not perform this type of work. However, we can refer you to contractors if necessary.

Additional information online

For more information about vermiculite and asbestos, please visit the following organizations’ websites:

  • Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety;
  • Health Canada.

You may also consult the following guides available online at no charge:

  • Gestion sécuritaire de l’amiante by CNESST (available in French only);
  • Guide de prévention amiante by ASP construction (available in French only).

FAQ on vermiculite testing

What does vermiculite testing involve?

Vermiculite insulation (marketed from 1920 to 1990 mainly under the Zonolite brand), which was used primarily in attics, could contain asbestos fibres that are hazardous to health. Click here for further details about vermiculite testing.

Can i choose a testing time?

No. We will contact you the business day before the test to confirm an appointment time.

How long will your technician be on site?

Around 30 minutes.

Is there a risk to my health when the sample is taken?

No.

What is the acceptable percentage of asbestos?

Less than 0.1%.

If the vermiculite in my property contains asbestos, does it pose a health hazard?

Under certain conditions, asbestos fibres could cause serious lung diseases and cancer. Health Canada advises that the best way to reduce the risk of asbestos exposure is to avoid disturbing the vermiculite insulation in any way. Removing the insulation by yourself is not recommended.

Vermiculite has a low asbestos content—generally between 0.1% and 5%. Health Canada notes that there is no significant health risk if vermiculite containing asbestos is present in an attic that is not used and isolated from the inhabited part of the house or sealed behind walls or under the floor. It is important to make sure that asbestos fibres do not become airborne by sealing off any gaps, cracks or holes.

Am i obligated to remove vermiculite if it contains asbestos?

No. There is no law that requires the removal of this material.

How much vermiculite is required for each sample?

Between 1 and 2 cups (250 ml to 500 ml, or around half a Ziploc type sandwich bag).

How should i take my samples?

Please contact us for the recommended method and precautions.

Do you carry out remediation work if the test result is positive?

We do not perform this type of work. However, we can refer you to contractors if necessary.

Some testimonials from our clients

“I want to thank all your team for your excellent service! With tight delays having major impacts on our transaction, I sincerely appreciate all the efforts to obtain our expertise report. Thanks to you, we saved three days and the buyers will be able to take possession of their house on time (very important element for them). You saved our transaction!”

Jean-Simon Roy, real estate broker │ Royal LePage Humania Centre

“Quick availability for our tests, competent and rigorous professionals, clear reports… what more could you ask for. We do business with Multitest regularly and are very satisfied, thanks to all your team :)”

Martin Forgues, partner │ Aire D3 inc. – decontamination services

“Thank you very much for the professionalism of all your team!”

Michel H., estimator │ Isolation Mongrain

“Pleasant experience from the time I called to take appointment to the delivery of the results. Fast and professional service. The technicians cleaned up after the tests and left everything the way it was.”

Tony Kababejian, Google review, Greater Montréal

“I highly recommend Multitest. They took the time to give me good advice as I dealt with a delicate situation. I felt supported and 100% confident with this team. Rigor, efficiency in communications, respect for the estimate. A great experience.”

Daphné Caron, Google review, Greater Montréal

Main areas served by our vermiculite experts

North Shore of Montreal

We serve the North Shore of Montreal, including Laval, Mascouche, Terrebonne, Mirabel, Saint-Jérôme, Le Gardeur, Deux-Montagnes, Saint-Eustache, Pointe-Calumet, Saint-Joseph-du-Lac, Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac, Blainville, Boisbriand, Bois-des-Filion, Lorraine, Rosemère, Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines, Sainte-Thérèse, Charlemagne, L’Assomption, Repentigny, Saint-Sulpice and L’Épiphanie.

City of Montreal

We serve the greater city of Montreal, including the following boroughs: Ahuntsic-Cartierville, Anjou, Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, Lachine, LaSalle, Le Plateau-Mont-Royal, Le Sud-Ouest, L’Île-Bizard–Sainte-Geneviève, Mercier–Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, Montréal-Nord, Outremont, Pierrefonds-Roxboro, Rivière-des-Prairies–Pointe-aux-Trembles, Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie, Saint-Laurent, Saint-Léonard, Verdun, Ville-Marie and Villeray–Saint-Michel–Parc-Extension.

South Shore of Montreal

We serve a large portion of Montérégie, including Longueuil, Greenfield Park, Saint-Hubert, Brossard, Belœil, Boucherville, Candiac, Carignan, Chambly, Châteauguay, Delson, La Prairie, McMasterville, Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Otterburn Park, Saint-Basile-le-Grand, Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, Sainte-Catherine, Saint-Constant, Saint-Isidore, Sainte-Julie, Saint-Lambert, Saint-Philippe, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Varennes.