A Comparison between Asbestos Removal and Encapsulation

Receiving news that your home contains asbestos can be devastating. There are two options that you may consider to reduce the risk of exposure to this hazardous material: asbestos encapsulation or asbestos removal.

Asbestos removal

Asbestos removal involves taking the asbestos-containing materials (ACM) away from your home to a disposal site. This method is suitable when the asbestos or ACM has become friable and presents a high risk of exposing your family to its fibres. Removal is recommended when the ACM is found within your air conditioning system. It also makes sense when the property still has a long time before reaching the end of its expected lifespan.

Asbestos removal is an attractive option because it gets rid of the threat completely. It can also free you from additional regulatory requirements, such as maintaining an asbestos register and conducting periodic inspections to ascertain the condition of the ACM. However, asbestos removal is the most expensive approach to managing asbestos risks. The removal process also imposes inconveniences to building occupants. For example, you may have to vacate the home until the removal exercise is complete. Despite these downsides, you will be grateful that your family is no longer at risk of exposure to asbestos.

Asbestos encapsulation

Asbestos encapsulation refers to the process by which the ACM is coated with a product that hardens it and prevents the ACM from releasing fibres. This option is recommended when a building is nearing the end of its service life. Encapsulation is also suitable if asbestos removal will be difficult. An example is when the ACM is located in an inaccessible place, such as within a sealed crawlspace.

The main advantages of asbestos encapsulation are that the process takes a shorter time when compared to asbestos removal, and it is cheaper. However, asbestos encapsulation does not get rid of the hazard. One is still required to take additional safety measures, such as conducting periodic inspections to confirm that the ACM has not sustained any damage that can release hazardous fibres. Encapsulating larger areas can also end up being as costly as removing the ACM.

Asbestos removal or encapsulation are just some of the options available to you. Other alternatives, such as sealing, deferral, and enclosure also exist. It is therefore advisable for you to seek guidance from an asbestos abatement expert. That professional will assess your home and recommend the most cost-effective way to deal with the asbestos that has been found within the premises.