DEAR BARRY: Before I bought my home, I asked my inspector about the strange insulating material in the attic. He told me that … there might be a small amount of asbestos fibers in the insulation. He assured me that the insulation was perfectly safe and that any asbestos contamination would be at safe levels and hard to detect.

I found out later that he is either ignorant or was purposely misleading me. After searching the Web, I believe I have Zonolite insulation, recognized to be contaminated with asbestos in the majority of cases. Is my home inspector liable for downplaying the risks of Zonolite? By the way, he had me sign a contract making him not liable for asbestos in the home. –Paul

DEAR PAUL: Zonolite was a brand name for a type of insulation known as vermiculite. It is a lightweight mineral that is mined from the ground and is commonly mixed with potting soil to help retain moisture.

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