Asbestos encapsulation is sometimes required to ensure the health and safety of those in domestic or commercial environments, In the period between the 1950’s and 1980’s, asbestos was widely used in the construction industry in UK. At that time asbestos was seen as an efficient and cost effective fireproofing and insulation material. It was used mostly in the construction of industrial, commercial and educational buildings. In the 1990’s it came to light that the asbestos fibres when released into the atmosphere posed serious health risks. So in 1999 the use of Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM) was banned and made illegal.
It is now known that exposure to asbestos fibres can cause severe respiratory diseases including lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis, and many of the symptoms have not presented themselves until several years after exposure to air borne asbestos fibres.
Most of the asbestos that we are asked to look at are cement asbestos roof and cladding sheets, this material was used extensively in fact it is estimated that there are over 1.5 million commercial and industrial properties which have asbestos roofs and walls. Many companies are trying to eliminate the release of asbestos fibres and they are considering the removal and disposal of their existing asbestos sheet roofs. This process is very expensive, it is disruptive to day-to-day operations within buildings it is strictly controlled and asbestos removal contractors must be licensed to operate.
The Health and Safety Executive state in the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012: “If existing asbestos containing materials are in good condition and are not likely to be damaged, they may be left in place; their condition monitored and managed to ensure they are not disturbed”.
The HSE state that encapsulation and sealing-in work on asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) that are in good condition is deemed to be non-licensed work and that is why asbestos encapsulation is being used more and more.
The foam is sprayed on to the inner surfaces of the asbestos sheets at a thickness starting at 25mm and increasing depending on the level of insulation required. The two component foam starts at out as a liquid and very quickly forms a seamless rigid foam. This locks any fibres in place prevents release into the atmosphere, it also stops further degradation of the cement asbestos sheeting. Not only does it prevent the escape of airborne fibres it also creates an insulating layer which cuts down heat loss by as much as 90%. Clearly this creates a safer, warmer more comfortable environment within the building. Our sprayed foam asbestos encapsulation treatment is especially efficient in getting in to hard to reach areas and it also air seals the building preventing other contaminants entering the building. The external surfaces of fibre cement asbestos roofs can also present a problem when they become worn by the weather. The cement element can erode and reveal asbestos fibres, which can then become airborne and whilst this does not have same detrimental effect on health, it can be a danger. These types of roofs can be subject to considerable thermal movement which results in widened and cracked holes around the bolt fixings and cracking to the fibre cement sheets. All of this damage can result in asbestos fibres being released. Our external foam and coating system will not only weatherproof the roof it will also significantly reduce heat loss and thermal movement, at the same time as encapsulating any loose asbestos fibres. The foam and coating process entails us carrying out a detailed survey of the building and then providing a proposal for the work. Once the costs are approved we provide detailed Risk Assessment and Method Statements for the client. In order to safely carry out the work we arrange the appropriate access equipment. We then carry out any remedial works, which may be necessary. Following this we spray apply a layer of expanding polyurethane foam which finds all cracks, joints and widened fixing holes, and immediately expands and seals them leaving a seamless insulating layer. A spray or brush applied elastomeric coating is applied to the surface of the foam, which protects the foam from UV. The finished system provides a weatherproof and insulated protective flashing to the whole roof.