The Pros and Cons of Asbestos Encapsulation

sbestos has been banned in many forms since the late 1980s, but certainly not all of them. A bigger issue has been what to do about asbestos that still is present in structures. Removal is messy and potentially dangerous, so a process known as encapsulation has become popular. In this article, we take a look at the pros and cons of it.

Asbestos is a tremendously effective fire resistant material and also very heat resistant. As a result, it makes a great insulator and fire break in structures. For this reason, it was heavily used in all manner of structures beginning particularly in World War II. Of course, this was before asbestos was found to cause major health problems including multiple types of cancer.

Asbestos is rarely used in building materials anymore. That is good news for new construction, but what about older structures? Many still have asbestos in them. Removal is expensive and messy, so many owners now go with encapsulation processes. As the name suggests, the areas of asbestos are encapsulated with a sturdy material. This keeps any asbestos from becoming airborne and causing a host of health problems.

The major benefits of encapsulation are readily apparent. First, the offending asbestos material remains in place and dangerous fibers are not kicked up during the destruction process. Second, the fire resistant benefits of asbestos remain in place since the material is still in the building. Third, the cost of encapsulating is almost always much cheaper than removing the material.

What about cons? There really aren't too many. The most frequent issue that arises is inadvertent exposure. If a building is damaged in an earthquake, tornado or other natural disaster, the asbestos can be exposed and create a dangerous situation. The same goes for a large fire where firemen are cutting away parts of the building without realizing they are infested with asbestos.

All and all, encapsulation has become all the rage these days with asbestos risk exposure. The short term results appear positive and it only is an issue of seeing whether the process holds up over time to determine whether this is finally a solution to the "old asbestos" problem.

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