If you've found asbestos in your home, office or garden, you should make it a priority to have it removed. Many asbestos removal firms will ask you to wrap the asbestos yourself to prepare it for removal. Some people are concerned about how to do this safely and securely--but it's not actually as difficult as you might think.
Why Do You Need To Wrap It Yourself?
If you've ever been for an X-ray, you'll know that the medical professionals who operate the machine are extremely well protected: they spend most of the time behind toughened glass, and if they need to enter the room where the X-ray is while it's switched on they wear a protective suit. You, on the other hand, will go in wearing nothing but a hospital gown and need to be exposed to the rays themselves fully for the examination to work. This is actually very safe, though, because X-rays aren't immediately harmful; the effect builds up over time. A few exposures over a whole lifetime whenever you break a bone or need another test won't do you any harm at all; the near-constant exposure from operating the machine on many patients all day every day for the course of a whole career would be very bad indeed.
The same principle is in operation with asbestos. Professional asbestos removalists who spend their entire working lives around the material need to work as hard as possible to limit their exposure; an ordinary homeowner, on the other hand, will probably only encounter it once or twice and will experience no problems whatsoever from wrapping it themselves.
There is a limit to this principle, of course. The asbestos you'll find at home is almost certainly Chrysotile, more commonly known as 'white asbestos' (although it can also be grey in colour); while still potentially harmful this is the least dangerous type and will take many exposures to cause a health problem. This is the kind you'll be asked to wrap yourself. If you find Amosite or Crocidolite--brown or blue asbestos--you should seek professional guidance before touching it at all and will probably be advised not to deal with it personally.
So How Can You Wrap White Asbestos Safely?
There are three major steps to getting your asbestos properly wrapped:
- Prepare yourself. It's a good idea to wear goggles, gloves and a mask. You should also lay plastic sheeting over the whole area in which you intend to work; this will later form part of the wrapping, in addition to keeping bits of asbestos dust from remaining on your floor.
- Get it down. Before you begin, use a gentle spray bottle to dampen the asbestos--this reduces the potential for dust. If the asbestos is screwed in, don't use power tools to remove it. Work as cautiously as you can, and don't break your asbestos up into smaller pieces--the larger the sheets can remain, the better. Do everything you can to avoid dropping them, too. Stack the pieces on your plastic wrap, but don't let them 'skid' over each other.
- Wrap it up. Once your asbestos is all in a pile, you can gently wrap the plastic sheeting over and around it. Use plenty of strong packing tape to secure them. Grab a marker pen and clearly write 'ASBESTOS' on every package.
- Clean the area. Remove the asbestos packages from the area; it's a good idea to take them carefully outside to await removal. Vacuum the removal area thoroughly and empty the vacuum cleaner right away while still wearing all your protective gear.
Once you've secured the asbestos, a professional asbestos removal and disposal company will come and collect it for you.