Building A Containment Area

If you are determined to do asbestos abatement on your own (and it is strongly recommended that you do not), it is absolutely vital to have the contaminated area properly sealed off from the outside so as not to contaminate the rest of your home or surrounding outdoor areas. Building a containment area is not complicated, but is labor intensive and requires the proper materials.

Getting Started

Most of what you will need is available at any local hardware store. At a minimum, you’ll need several hundred feet of polyethylene sheeting in 3 mil and 6 mil thicknesses, several rolls of duct tape, a sturdy step ladder and two-by-fours in eight-foot lengths.

For the actual asbestos waste, you’ll also need approved disposal bags measuring 33" by 50," that have pre-printed warnings on them regarding the asbestos hazard. There should be one bag for every 25 square feet of material to be removed; if there is an excessive amount, you’ll need at least one 55-gallon drum. Supplies such as these can be purchased at stores listed in your local phone book under "Safety Supplies."

Specific Steps

  1. Lay the 6 mil polyethylene sheets on the floors throughout the contaminated areas, placing them so they overlap the room by about one foot. Fasten these sheets in place up the walls about six inches with duct tape. This will allow the polyethylene sheets enough slack so they do not pull or tear as people stand or walk on it.
  2. Hang 3 mil polyethylene sheets on the walls from a height that is about one inch from the ceiling using duct tape, making sure there is overlap onto the floor. Seal all seams between sheets with duct tape as well. (Do the opposite if the ceiling is to be covered, i.e., the asbestos is being removed from a wall or behind it).
  3. Lay a second layer of 6 mil polyethylene on the floor in pieces measuring 100-120 square feet. These should be put down in a loose manner, without duct tape; make certain the sheets overlap.
  4. Now you will need to create an "isolation" wall, similar to an "airlock." Hang sheets of 6 mil polyethylene on each side of the doorframe, cutting a 5-6 foot vertical slit. Fasten a second sheet over the inner doorframe as a flap.
  5. Inspect your work. The only exposed area in the room should be the area from which asbestos is to be removed.
  6. Using the two-by-fours, build a second, temporary "doorframe" outside the room, and create an "airlock" using the same method described in steps 1-4, above. This airlock should contain a water sprayer, clean wet rags, a buck and your asbestos disposal bags.
  7. If you choose to open windows, regulations in most communities require that the area just outside the windows be contained as well so asbestos fibers do not escape. You will need to construct a canopy with the plastic sheeting and lumber as well as install flaps on both sides of the window frame.

'Building A Containment Area' Sources:

  • Olympic Region Clean Air Agency. "Asbestos Procedures For Homeowners" (2007).