Asbestos, once a widely used material due to its fire-resistant and insulating properties, poses severe health risks. Inhaling its asbestos fibers can cause serious respiratory diseases, including lung cancer and mesothelioma. If it’s in your home or business, you want it under control, if not removed entirely. One method of abating asbestos is encapsulation or sealing it in place.
The Dangers of Asbestos
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral fiber widely used in homes, businesses, government buildings, vehicles, ships, and airplanes. Its fire- and heat-resistant properties made it popular for insulation, roofing materials, and thousands of other applications.
Fibers can become airborne when these products are installed, disturbed, age, and deteriorate. Those nearby may inhale or swallow the fibers, starting a potentially deadly, decades-long chain of events.
Asbestos causes lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis. The time between exposure and showing these conditions’ symptoms may take 30 or 40 years, making disease prevention and proper asbestos management essential.
How Does Encapsulation Work?
If there’s asbestos in an area, a professional, licensed, trustworthy abatement company should test it to ensure it’s asbestos. They should come up with options on how to best deal with it. This may include removing and safely disposing of it or encapsulating it where it is.
Encapsulation minimizes the risk of releasing fibers into the air by applying a specialized coating or sealant to encapsulate or seal up the asbestos-containing material, preventing the release of asbestos fibers. After testing the material, the following steps would be:
- Preparation: Before applying the sealant, the surface of the asbestos-containing material must be prepared. This involves cleaning and removing any loose debris or dust that may hinder the effectiveness of the encapsulation
- Application: The encapsulation material, often a liquid sealant, is applied to the asbestos-containing surface. This material is carefully chosen to ensure compatibility with asbestos and long-lasting protection. The encapsulant creates a durable barrier that binds the asbestos fibers and related material together, preventing them from becoming airborne
- Curing and Testing: Next, it undergoes a curing process to ensure a solid and durable protective layer. Subsequent testing may be conducted to verify the effectiveness of the encapsulation and to ensure that the asbestos fibers remain securely contained
What’s done varies on the type of asbestos material being abated. The work area is sealed off. Workers wear protective equipment to prevent their exposure to fibers. Any asbestos that may have come loose during the process is cleaned up and removed.
What are the Benefits of Encapsulation?
Each abatement approach has its pros and cons. The benefits include:
- Less Costly: Asbestos encapsulation is often more cost-effective than removal. The process involves less labor and disposal costs, making it an attractive option for managing asbestos-containing materials, especially in situations where removal is impractical or too expensive for the property owner
- Less Disruption: Unlike asbestos removal, which can be a long and disruptive process, encapsulation is usually faster and causes less disturbance. This is particularly helpful in situations where removing asbestos could lead to further contamination or pose additional risks
- Reduced Health Risks: Compared to ignoring the problem, preventing the release of asbestos fibers into the air through encapsulation significantly reduces the health risks associated with asbestos products in a building. Though it’s in a sealed-off area, removing asbestos might result in greater fiber release.
On the downside, encapsulation doesn’t end the threat asbestos fibers pose. It just postpones removal in a controlled or uncontrolled manner. If there’s a fire or the structure collapses or is demolished without proper removal, asbestos fibers could spread widely through the area.
When is Encapsulation a Better Idea Than Asbestos Removal?
Encapsulating the asbestos product may be a better option if:
- The asbestos is part of a durable material, such as vinyl-asbestos flooring, and it’s still intact
- The material is in good condition without much wear or tear
- The impacted area is easily sealed up (walls, floors, and other flat surfaces)
Asbestos removal is the more common approach. It’s the better choice when the product is damaged, or fibers have been released into the structure. Asbestos is a clear threat in this situation and should be removed as soon as possible to prevent further health risks.
Your Local Mesothelioma Law Firm
If you or a loved one are diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, you should understand your rights to compensation for the harm asbestos causes.
Experienced Satterley & Kelley’s, PLLC, asbestos injury lawyers can discuss your situation and help you recover compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and the pain and suffering you’ve endured. Schedule a free initial consultation at our Louisville office by calling us toll-free at 855-385-9532 or completing our online contact form today.