PVA as an encapsulant

PVA asbestos

In this blog we are talking about PVA as an encapsulant of asbestos.

PVA stands for Polyvinyl Acetate and is a glue-like substance, best known as a wood glue, white glue or school glue.

It is a safe glue and doesn’t burn your skin. It is easily washable and is water based. It used to be used in the construction industry all the time because it was cheap, easy, doesn’t make a mess and can be cleaned up easily.

The problems with using PVA as an encapsulant

By the time we entered the industry in 2000, you were only allowed to use it under certain circumstances but contractors still tried to use it all the time within their asbestos enclosures to basically stick everything down. If they had removed a load of asbestos insulating board and there were asbestos fibres floating in the air, the quickest and easiest way to reduce the fibre levels, is to do a quick vacuum and apply PVA spray to everything, including the sheeting. The mist and fibres in the air will fall together and it will all stick and dry.

Let’s be clear – PVA is a cheat’s way. When the consultant runs the air test, it is more likely to pass because everything is stuck down. However, if future workers disturb the PVA, those fibres could be liberated into the air again.

It’s one thing using PVA on the polythene which would be removed as part of the destruction of the enclosure but it should not be used on other surfaces.

Imagine you PVA the brickwork in a boiler room. Everything sticks to it and it passes the air test but over the next few weeks, months and years, the PVA degrades. It’s more susceptible than other encapsulants and that’s why it is no good for this scenario.

If you go back to your school days can you remember using PVA glue on your hands and then peeling it off? When it is used in asbestos enclosures it is watered down so it is sprayable. As a result, it is weaker and can be easily removed with some water and slight rubbing and it becomes flaky. You cannot build layers with it. It dries see through, leaves the surface shiny and you cannot see what has been encapsulated.

The problem with PVA is it degrades over time and bacteria and fungi can degrade it whilst in situ. If you think about the types of place you might want to spray with PVA, like boiler rooms, they are susceptible to heat changes,  condensation and water penetration through walls so PVA is definitely not the go to material to use for sealing anything to do with asbestos.

Can PVA be used as an encapsulant on asbestos works?

Even using it on asbestos works, is frowned upon. It can be used as part of the clear up process. If there is lots of debris and dust being generated you are on occasion allowed to do that kind of seal but that is the only situation.

Other than this, PVA should definitely not be used as an encapsulant. PVA will not add any sort of protection to those asbestos materials, not for any length of time and that’s no good if you are trying to manage your asbestos. That is when you need to use sprayable vapour barriers.

PVA as a primary seal

Some contractors use PVA as a primary seal, prior to encapsulating asbestos. That can be good because the light spray from the hand sprayers can form a seal before the contractor paint it which is a good risk reduction for exposure. It takes to their boards a bit better sometimes.

What is a good alternative to PVA?

A good alternative would be to encapsulate with proper materials. For example, ET150 is an Asbestos Encapsulation Paint which can also be sprayed or applied with brushes and rollers. The finish isn’t always great as it is thicker than normal paint but you get more of a covering and protection. The vapour barrier paint finishes with a rubber protection. It will take more impact than normal paint and definitely more than what PVA would.

If you have any removal projects question the use of PVA. You might get the certificate you need but in the long run is that what you actually want? Does that suit you and your site’s needs? There may be occasions where it is used but you should question its use.

We’re a professional asbestos consultancy helping businesses deal with asbestos compliance using asbestos surveysasbestos testing, and asbestos removal management. Please call one of the team, or use the online form to obtain your free quotation. If you would like further information or advice on asbestos and asbestos training, contact the team on 0844 818 0895 or email info@acorn-as.com

Neil Munro

I work in a dual role at Acorn Analytical Services focused primarily on growing and leading the business from our Northampton office base. My focus is on overseeing all sales, marketing and financial activities from Northampton. I assist clients with high-level asbestos management strategies and training. Together with Ian Stone I host our weekly podcast – Asbestos Knowledge Empire and I'm Co-author of Asbestos The Dark Arts and Fear and Loathing of Health and Safety.

Need Help? Request a Call Back

Request a call back from one of our expert Asbestos Consultants who will help you identify what you need

More Asbestos Articles

Harris and Lucas have both been diagnosed with Becker Muscular Dystrophy

Sarah’s story: The inspiration behind A Mile a Day in May for Muscular Dystrophy UK

At Acorn, we pride ourselves on our family values and the strength of our team spirit which help to make our company the success that it is. Together, we’ve built a team which works hard, celebrates the successes and pulls together in difficult times. When life gets hard for one of us it affects us … Read more

Acorn Analytical Services is raising awareness of asbestos

Asbestos may be out of sight but it should never be out of mind

WITH construction methods advancing all the time its easy to think of asbestos as a building material which has long been consigned to the history books. Used extensively in post-war Britain, as a cheap building material known primarily for its fire-retardant properties, asbestos was central to the rebuilding of the UK used in many public … Read more

Asbestos management consultancy Acorn Analytical Services continues to grow

Asbestos management consultancy Acorn Analytical Services grows its team after successful start to 2024

THE start of the year has been a busy one for the team at asbestos management consultancy Acorn Analytical Services with a number of new clients coming on board. These are exciting times for Acorn – and as the business has continued to grow – so too has our team. Since Christmas, we’ve created 12 … Read more

The new senior leadership team at asbestos managment consultancy, Acorn Analytical Services. From left to right, Sian Stone, Sam Savage and Daniel Crask.

Three reasons why you should always #chooseacorn for all of your asbestos management needs

If you’re a regular visitor to our social media channels you’ll almost certainly have seen the hashtag #chooseacorn being used and maybe even wondered why. For Acorn Analytical Services these two words alone mark a real step change in the way we do business – representing a fresh start and a bolder, much more innovative … Read more

The new senior leadership team at asbestos management consultancy Acorn Analytical Services. From left to right, Steve McGlone, Andy Jackson and Simon Rodham.

Award-winning asbestos management consultancy starts 2024 with a new senior team

AWARD-WINNING asbestos management consultancy Acorn Analytical Services has announced a new senior leadership team to take the company into 2024 and beyond. After a record-breaking year which saw the company recognised for High Growth at the National SME Awards while taking on new clients and winning new business across the UK, Acorn Analytical Services, which … Read more

Ian Stone, director of asbestos management consultancy, Acorn Analytical Services

Let’s start 2024 in the right way – by getting rid of the dangers of asbestos for good

According to the latest data from the Health and Safety Executive 2,268 people died from asbestos-related mesothelioma in 2021 alone. It’s a shocking statistic, particularly when you consider that the use of asbestos in new buildings was banned in the UK in 1999 – more than 20 years ago. With Cancer Research UK confirming that … Read more

This Men's Health Month is time to talk about absestos

Men’s Health Month – it’s time to talk openly about asbestos

NOVEMBER marks Men’s Health Month – a time for shining the spotlight on the conditions and issues which affect men from all walks of life. While the focus quite rightly turns to serious health issues including Prostate Cancer, Testicular Cancer and mental health, at Acorn Analytical Services we want people to start talking about asbestos. … Read more

Asbestos consultancy Acorn Analytical Services will soon be moving into new offices

Have you heard the news? Asbestos consultancy Acorn Analytical Services Northampton is on the move

IF you haven’t heard the news already, we are delighted to announce that asbestos connsultancy Acorn Analytical Services Northampton will be starting a brand-new chapter very soon. In the coming days, our team will be moving to new – much larger – offices on Northampton’s Moulton Park, the place which has been our home for … Read more

asbestos in talcum powder

Unveiling the Hidden Danger: The Menace of Asbestos in Talcum Powder and the UK’s Stance

Explore the veiled danger of asbestos in talcum powder, the UK’s vigilant regulations, and the unfolding narrative of consumer safety. Dive into the rigorous testing methodologies, industry responses, and the promising horizon of international cooperation aiming to foster a safer landscape in the realm of personal care products.

RAAC and asbestos could be a problem in some buildings

Raac and ruin? How concrete crisis also raises the question of asbestos

A LOT has been said recently about Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) and asbestos. While fears about the safety of RAAC continue to dominate the headlines both nationally and locally, it is the additional threat from asbestos which we believe should be discussed now as a matter of urgency. Just as RAAC is crumbling in … Read more