Development of a screening model for the migration of contaminated soil vapor into the indoor air environment



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The migration of contaminants from the subsurface into the indoor air environment, in a process described as soil vapor intrusion, is gaining attention as a potential pathway for exposure to contaminated soil and water. Indoor, outdoor and soil air samples were collected from forty homes in North Texas to investigate the attenuation of trichloroethylene (TCE) from contaminated groundwater into residential buildings. The mean and standard deviation of the soil and indoor air attenuation factors (ratio of indoor air concentration to soil vapor concentration) were 0.14 and 0.17, respectively. Five of the 40 values were greater than 0.1 which is the suggested upper-bound by the U.S. EPA (2002). Statistical tools were used to draw correlative relationships between contaminant groundwater, soil air and indoor air concentrations. The VolaSoil model described by Waitz et al. (1996), was modified for use as a screening tool for future investigations of indoor TCE concentration. Using measured soil vapor data, the model under predicted indoor air TCE concentrations likely due to heterogeneities in the unsaturated subsurface. Inputting groundwater TCE concentrations, the model was able to capture the contaminant migration processes and produce results consistent with measured indoor TCE concentrations. Therefore, the model described in this paper maybe appropriate to be use as a screening tool in future investigations in the contamination area.