How Lead Abatement through Encapsulation Works

February 10, 2009

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Lead-painted facilities must undergo lead abatement activities to lessen the safety and health risks to building users. Safety regulations stringently require facility owners to comply with lead-poisoning prevention programs and maintain the building’s lead-safety level. But the cost involved in lead removal is often painfully high for building owners. The encapsulation technique of lead abatement offers a more affordable alternative.

How does encapsulation work? Health hazards from lead-based paints often come from the possible ingestion by humans of the heavy metal lead. Lead is chipped off the building surface as loose fragments of paint or contaminated dust, waiting dangerously for building users to inhale or absorb the fragments.

Encapsulation is a simple process of applying a coating to the lead-painted surface of the building to enclose the lead paint within. Encapsulation will re-bind loose fragments of lead paint back to the existing substrate or surface of the building.

Encapsulation initially involves a solvent being applied to the existing paint, softening the coating. A properly trained worker then smooth the old paint layers down, effectively gluing back the lead paint in place. Finally, a tough outer coating is applied to the building surface, successfully encapsulating the lead paint within.

Encapsulation offers a less costly alternative to standard lead abatement removal techniques that require a large amount of time and materials to implement. Unlike standard lead removal, encapsulation will not remove the lead paint but instead seal it, eliminating the added cost of contaminated waste disposal.

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