The main risk of asbestos is that it may fly into the air, be inhaled by people nearby and lead to serious health issues. If you're working with asbestos soil, most professionals advise wetting the soil to prevent the asbestos fibres from getting into the air. Here are a few tips and options related to that process:
1. Consider Encapsulant
An asbestos encapsulant is a mixture of chemicals designed to do more than just wet the asbestos—the solution actually encapsulates the asbestos. It is especially ideal if you are working on asbestos soil removal inside such as on the dirt floor of a crawlspace or unfinished basement.
Consider using an airless sprayer. That helps to spread the application evenly over the surface.
2. Try Misters on Track Hoes for Large Areas
When dealing with large outdoor areas of asbestos soil, try using misters on track hoes. Make sure the mister attachment goes on the front of the track hoe, rather than using a mister that is pulled behind a tractor or other piece of equipment.
You don't want the equipment hitting the soil first and disturbing it. You want to make sure the water or any chemical solution you've decided to use hits the soil first. Keep the mister as close as possible to the ground so that the liquid really penetrates.
3. Mist Early in the Morning or Evening
Time can make a difference. If you mist when the sun is at its peak, some of the water may evaporate. As a result, you should try to wet the soil in the early morning or early afternoon. That gives the water time to penetrate before evaporation starts.
4. Look for Visible Emissions
If you can see clouds of dust rising out of the soil, that dust is likely to have asbestos fibres in it, and that means you have not adequately wet the soil. Try to test the soil without getting too close to it. For instance, if you are using a track hoe to mist the soil, have someone watch from the side of the site, and have them alert you if dust is flying. For small or interior areas, try prodding the soil with a rake whilst you are standing to the side wearing a dust mask or a ventilator.
5. Clean Shoes
Wet soil is more likely to stick to shoes. To avoid spreading around asbestos soil, clean all shoes before people leave the work site. Better yet, wear protective covers over shoes whilst working.
For help, contact an asbestos soil removal expert.