In this article, we will be discussing asbestos, asbestos removal and its cheaper, more effective alternative, asbestos encapsulation.

Asbestos encapsulation a cheaper, safer alternative to asbestos removal

What Is asbestos?

Asbestos is a term used that refers to a group of naturally-occurring fibrous minerals.

It is remarkably durable and resistant to heat, properties which lead to its wide use in building and pipe insulation amongst other uses, by most of the modern world.

In addition, asbestos has also been woven into fireproof cloth and incorporated into cement pipes used for water transport and into erosion-resistant cement roofing tiles.

Asbestos Dangers

Regrettably, asbestos exposure causes a wide range of serious and fatal health conditions including:

  • breathlessness;
  • loss of lung function;
  • asbestosis scarring of the lungs;
  • right sided heart enlargement and then failure.

Most of the predominantly used asbestos is highly carcinogenic (it causes cancer) and has been directly linked to a plethora of cancers, such as mesothelioma.

The asbestos fibres are inhalable, and once inhaled cause long term damage because of their physical characteristics and bio-persistence in the body.

Today world production of asbestos is highest from Brazil, Canada, China, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Zimbabwe. Vast amounts of asbestos are still used in many developing countries.

Past exposure to asbestos currently kills around 4500 people a year in Great Britain. Workers who carry out building maintenance and repair are particularly at risk.

There is usually a long delay between first symptoms of asbestos exposure and the onset of disease which varies from 15 to 60 years.

It is now illegal to use asbestos in the construction or refurbishment of any premises, but many thousands of tons were used in the past and much of it is still in place.

Asbestos Regulations

South Africa bans all use of asbestos.

“28 March 2008 Environmental Affairs and Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk has announced that the use, manufacture and processing of asbestos will be prohibited in South Africa with immediate effect.
The Regulations for the Prohibition of the Use, Manufacturing, Import and Export of Asbestos and Asbestos Containing Materials, which form part of the Environment Conservation Act of 1989, will be promulgated on 28 March and will take effect immediately, Van Schalkwyk said at a media briefing on Thursday.
"A grace period of 120 days will be allowed for any person or merchant who is currently dealing in asbestos or asbestos containing materials to clear their stocks," he said.
The main objectives of the new regulations are to prohibit the use, processing or manufacturing, of any asbestos or asbestos-containing product unless it can be proven that no suitable alternative exists.
South Africa will now prohibit the import or export of any asbestos or asbestos-containing product, and will also stop the import of any asbestos or asbestos containing waste material other than from a member of the Southern African Development Community.
The regulations do, however, make provision for asbestos to be used for research purposes.”

Asbestos safety precautions and management

Any work entailing asbestos should be carried out by an industry professional because if the correct procedures are not carried out, it is highly hazardous to one’s health.

Anyone working or exposed to asbestos must wear appropriate disposable masks and overalls to dispose of after each exposure.

All Asbestos containing materials must be kept wet so that asbestos dust does not become airborne. Asbestos removal should be done delicately, making sure it is in one piece. Avoid breaking or using power tools unless it is absolutely necessary.

Asbestos Encapsulation vs Asbestos Removal

As an alternative, the majority of asbestos applications in buildings can be encapsulated and made safer by using our Polyurethane Spray Foam (SPF) solution.

Benefits of Asbestos Encapsulation using Spray Polyurethane Foam

  • It is far cheaper than asbestos removal. Removing asbestos is a costly process. Using polyurethane spray foam enables you to avoid high expenses and safely dispose of your old asbestos roof. Our unique polyurethane spray foam insulation product may be applied directly to the underside of the asbestos roof sheeting.
  • Closed cell polyurethane spray foam can be applied to both sides of the asbestos sheet and completely encapsulates the asbestos stopping the fibres from floating in the air and becoming an inhalable health hazard.
  • Encapsulation provides seamless waterproofing for your roof.
  • Additionally, encapsulation offers added thermal insulation for your building.
  • If externally applied the spray foam solution safely and permanently seals in the hazardous asbestos. It also provides a robust barrier strengthening the roofing structure.
  • Encapsulation can also repair damaged asbestos sheeting, removing any potential for unexpected contact.
  • Furthermore, SPF is typically applied with an additional waterproofing membrane coat and can last indefinitely without needing to be removed.

Spray Foam Solutions Port Elizabeth – Asbestos Encapsulation at the Volkswagen Factory

Recently, we were given the task of encapsulating the roofing structures at the Volkswagen factory in Uitenhage, Eastern Cape.

The area needing application was 400m2. The application entailed 50mm thick polyurethane spray foam with a pure acrylic top coat in a light grey colour.

Not only did we solve the asbestos issue externally but we seamlessly waterproofed and thermally insulated their roof too.

Additionally, we were able to strengthen their roofing structure. An additional R-Value of 2 was installed to the roof through polyurethane spray foam increasing the thermal insulation.

The application time took 2 days to apply the foam and an additional day to coat.

For more information about asbestos removal and encapsulation, please contact us.