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Asbestos Encapsulation

Date Added: December 20, 2011 09:21:31 AM
Author: rhiannonvdm
Category: Asbestos Consultants

During much of the twentieth century, asbestos was commonly used by manufacturers and builders, alike, because of its high level of heat resistance. Today, asbestos can no longer be used in Australia, nor many other parts of the world, as a building material, due to its highly toxic fibers. However, the process of asbestos encapsulation, in which the asbestos is sealed within a protective shell, can now make the mineral suitable for use once more.

            By undergoing asbestos encapsulation, the hazardous fumes and fibers are kept from being released into the air, thereby preventing contamination. As asbestos has been known to cause pleural plaques, asbestosis and mesothelioma, amongst many other conditions, the sealing of this harmful element can often be a good solution in situations where asbestos cannot be physically removed from a structure, or when it is safer or easier to leave it in place.

            As a matter of fact, it has been proven that removing asbestos can be harmful, in and of itself. It is usually safer to simply cover it up,  due to the fact that small particles of the asbestos are released into the air when it is disturbed or moved. On the other hand, there are certain circumstances in which the encapsulation can only make matters worse, such as deteriorating or crumbling asbestos. This is because the sealant used in the process only removes the already loose fibers and releases them into the air, thereby facilitating further contamination. Another instance in which asbestos encapsulation is not recommended is when the material is slated for future removal, as the penetrating sealant makes it more difficult to tear out.

            In addition to the safety aspect of encapsulating asbestos, as opposed to removing it, it is a much more cost efficient option. On average, encapsulation offers a 66% savings on the overall cost of removal, as most contractors charge anywhere from $15 to $25 per square meter throughout Australia for removing the hazardous material, while encapsulation costs a mere $2 to $6 per square meter.

            Another advantage of encapsulation is that removal can be a time consuming process. It should only be performed by a professional while wearing protective gear, therefore, the occupants of the home must not be present while the work is being carried out. The effected area must be covered in plastic and all vents sealed, and once the asbestos has been removed a visual and air inspection is done to ensure safety. This process can result in the homeowners being displaced, in some cases, for extended periods of time. Whereby, asbestos encapsulation may require some enclosure of the area, but is performed relatively quickly and, as mentioned before, does not provide the same risk factor.

            It's always a good idea to hire a professional to inspect your home or other building to determine which asbestos abatement method is right, depending upon the condition of the existing asbestos and the area that needs to removed or treated. However, if possible, asbestos encapsulation is a safe and more cost effective alternative to removing the hazardous material.