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Identification of Alternative Vapor Intrusion Pathways Using Controlled Pressure Testing, Soil Gas Monitoring, and Screening Model Calculations

Guo, Yuanming, Holton, Chase, Luo, Hong, Dahlen, Paul, Gorder, Kyle, Dettenmaier, Erik, Johnson, Paul C.
Environmental Science & Technology 2015 v.49 no.22 pp. 13472-13482
data collection, emissions, groundwater, groundwater contamination, models, monitoring, polluted soils, screening, soil air, vapors
Vapor intrusion (VI) pathway assessment and data interpretation have been guided by an historical conceptual model in which vapors originating from contaminated soil or groundwater diffuse upward through soil and are swept into a building by soil gas flow induced by building underpressurization. Recent studies reveal that alternative VI pathways involving neighborhood sewers, land drains, and other major underground piping can also be significant VI contributors, even to buildings beyond the delineated footprint of soil and groundwater contamination. This work illustrates how controlled-pressure-method testing (CPM), soil gas sampling, and screening-level emissions calculations can be used to identify significant alternative VI pathways that might go undetected by conventional sampling under natural conditions at some sites. The combined utility of these tools is shown through data collected at a long-term study house, where a significant alternative VI pathway was discovered and altered so that it could be manipulated to be on or off. Data collected during periods of natural and CPM conditions show that the alternative pathway was significant, but its presence was not identifiable under natural conditions; it was identified under CPM conditions when measured emission rates were 2 orders of magnitude greater than screening-model estimates and subfoundation vertical soil gas profiles changed and were no longer consistent with the conventional VI conceptual model.