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What is Asbestos Encapsulation?

By Harriette Halepis
Updated May 16, 2024
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Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous mineral that is highly toxic when inhaled. During the late 19th century, asbestos was widely used by building developers and manufacturers due to its incredible resistance to heat. Today, asbestos as a building material has been banned in almost every country, though some builders now use asbestos encapsulation in order to control harmful asbestos fumes.

Simply put, asbestos encapsulation refers to the actual sealing of asbestos within a protective shell. This is done for a number of reasons, but the main reason is that removing all asbestos materials from some structures is nearly impossible. Therefore, various manufacturers have devised capsules that are meant to contain all asbestos toxins without demolishing an entire structure.

In fact, scientists have discovered that attempting to remove asbestos from a building is more harmful than simply covering it up. When asbestos has been disturbed, small particles of the toxin drift into the air. As a result, an air space can quickly become contaminated. Therefore, the best solution is to manage asbestos by containing it using asbestos encapsulation techniques.

Any exposure to asbestos is a health risk. Asbestos has been directly linked to lung cancer, fatal asbestos disease, mesothelioma, emphysema, and gastric cancer. Interestingly, exposure to a low level of asbestos seems to cause as much health damaged as exposure to a high level of asbestos. Homeowners and building owners that own structures laced with asbestos are urged to contain this harmful toxin as quickly as possible.

Asbestos encapsulation is a lot more cost-effective than completely removing asbestos. As previously mentioned, the removal of asbestos is not recommended, though this procedure is possible with professional help. While asbestos removal is an expensive procedure, simply covering up an asbestos problem with encapsulation proves to be a much cheaper alternative.

While it might not seem safe to cover asbestos, the truth of the matter is that asbestos encapsulation is a very safe procedure when done correctly. However, any pipes or materials containing asbestos that are not in good condition should not be maintained. Pipes and materials that are not in good shape should be removed from a building by experts as quickly as possible.

Many asbestos encapsulation products on the market can be used by consumers, though this is not always recommended. In order to ensure that asbestos does not seep into the air, this toxin must be properly contained. Therefore, hiring a professional contractor to apply encapsulation materials is the best course of action.

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Discussion Comments
By anon336671 — On May 30, 2013

Why do you say exposure to a small amount is as bad as exposure to a large amount? That is directly opposed to everything T've read so far, and I've been scouring the internet about this.

By Sprayman — On Oct 27, 2011

can you encapsulate acoustic ceiling with drywall compound or plaster product?

By sweetPeas — On Jun 27, 2011

I lived in a house that probably had asbestos in the popcorn ceilings. I think it was up until the 1970s that asbestos was used in houses. Some of our neighbors had their ceilings removed. We decided to let ours stay put and not disturb it.

I didn't know that you could have it covered or encapsulated. This sounds like a much better way of keeping it out of the air, than removing it. Otherwise, it can be toxic. Covering it up is cheaper than removing it yourself or using a professional. It's a lot safer too.

There must be many buildings and homes that have asbestos in the structure of the building. It sounds like it is more toxic to the lungs than they used to think. I've heard people talk about lawsuits involving workers getting mesothelioma from working in an asbestos filled building. It's nasty stuff.

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