Asbestos in Vermiculite

Greg Tong, in San Francisco, wrote:
"My favorite nursery told me today that it has stopped carrying vermiculite
because vermiculite has asbestos in it. The nursery is large and well-known
in the San Francisco-Berkeley area for its quality.  Can anyone shed light 
this? I was just about to buy some vermiculite to mix with the substrate in 
new plant tank.

I haven't heard a single word about this and believe someone started a 
 I work in the clean air field which includes asbestos.  Vermiculite, when 
has a tendency to fly away when a breeze touches it.  This tendency is
technically called "being friable," meaning you can easily inhale it.  All 
asbestos is no longer sold, according to U.S. law.  It is also law that all 
asbestos must be removed (big bucks $$$) or sealed in an acceptable
manner.  Just from this last information, I'm pretty sure vermiculite is 

If you want to use another product because you can no longer get 
try perlite.  It's made from volcanic rock which is heated and popped - just 
popcorn.  It serves the same purpose as vermiculite, has slightly larger 
size, but I don't know what effects it has on water chemistry.  Has anyone
used perlite?

Rochelle Williams
williaro at ftmcphsn-emh1_army.mil
Air Pollution Environmental Engineer
Avid Gardener and Aquarist
Atlanta, Georgia - Home of the gold medal for worst Olympic traffic jam.