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Asbestos encapsulation is the process of sealing raw asbestos products with a silicone rubberised paint. Encapsulation protects the asbestos from damage, but more importantly, prevents asbestos fibres being released into the surrounding environment. The health risk associated with asbestos is very well documented and many asbestos removal activities are regulated.
The process of Asbestos encapsulation is often used where access to asbestos containing materials is difficult or where asbestos removal could cause damage to the structure of a building. It is sometimes used as a faster alternative to removing asbestos containing materials (ACMs) which can help prevent downtime or the risk of a refurbishment project overrunning.
Such examples might include areas where there is a risk of disturbing electrical cables, pipework, and machinery, or where removal of asbestos could risk damaging surrounding building beam supports and roofs. It may also include encapsulation of pipe lagging, doors panels, airing cupboards, ceilings and boiler plant rooms.
The process can also add a waterproof barrier to the asbestos containing material helping to prevent it deteriorating over time.
Asbestos encapsulation usually lasts between 10 to 25 years, depending on the product to be encapsulated and the location of the asbestos. Encapsulation in areas of extreme weather or strong sunlight may not last as long.
This depends on the type of asbestos and the works to be carried out. Ideally, the area would be restricted during the process. However, exceptions can sometimes be made depending on the type of asbestos to be encapsulated. In the case of a notifiable product such as AIB, the area is not accessible during works.