Is Your Building a Candidate for Encapsulation?

February 11, 2009

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For lead abatement projects, the encapsulation technique is a safe and cost-effective alternative to standard lead removal solutions that not only take a lot of time and materials to implement, but also has to add post-project contaminated waste disposal to the total lead abatement cost.

Facility managers need to be aware, however, that encapsulation will work only for certain building conditions. The overall condition of the painted surface and the building environment will be the key factors to consider on whether to encapsulate or not.

For example, upon examination of the painted surface, it is found out that the lead-based paint chips off in large and loose chunks. Then the encapsulation procedure has a high chance of becoming unsuccessful in completely re-attaching the loose material to the building surface. Only smaller chips of paint can undergo the encapsulation process — being softened and re-bound to the surface using multiple application of encapsulating solvent. In cases of large and thick chips of lead-based paint, the building will have to undergo lead removal by a certified lead abatement worker.

Another factor to consider on whether or not the building is qualified for encapsulation is the expected environment conditions of the facility. If the building is most likely to have a high-friction or high-impact environment, then the building is not a candidate for encapsulation. Constant friction will eventually wear out the encapsulation coating and leave the original lead paint exposed once again. Severe and continuous impacts can also crack the paint and produce chips of dangerous lead paint.

Encapsulation can provide lead abatement solutions at a much lower cost than standard lead removal techniques. It is up to the facility manager to decide whether the building is suited for encapsulation or not.

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