Assessing Vapor Intrusion Exposure & Risk

Funding Source: ARRA Supplement to NIEHS P42 ES007381
PI: David Ozonoff, MD, MPH, BUSPH
Co-Investigators: Michael McClean, ScD, BUSPH; Madeleine Scammell, DSc, BUSPH; Wendy Heiger-Bernays, PhD, BUSPH; Eric Suuberg, ScD, Brown University; Kelly Pennell, PhD, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

ebrg_2Decades of chemical handling at 50 Tufts Avenue in Somerville MA resulted in soil and groundwater contamination in the surrounding residential area. The primary constituents of concern are volatile organic compounds because of their ability to migrate into above ground structures. Neighboring homes are subject to indoor air contamination, and a number of vapor intrusion systems have been installed at residences near 50 Tufts Avenue.

Vapor intrusion is a complex problem for agencies that are tasked with developing regulations to ensure protection of human health. Ideally, characterization of vapor intrusion risks typically involves sampling soil gas around and/or beneath the building of concern and may also include the collection of indoor air samples from affected buildings. However, many states base such regulatory decisions on the results of vapor intrusion models that have yet to be validated.

The primary objectives of our project are to: 1) Conduct a community-based exposure assessment by obtaining repeated measurements of indoor air, vapor phase concentrations in the subsurface and soil gas samples from the vapor intrusion site; 2) Analyze field data from exposure assessment to test vapor intrusion fate and transport model; and 3) Evaluate current vapor intrusion risk assessment guidelines and develop recommendations for improving risk assessments. Results from this study will provide additional insight to improve not only vapor intrusion characterization efforts, but also risk assessments and policy.

The Vapor Intrusion project is a branch of the Superfund Research Program and will be carried out by researchers at Brown University and the Boston University School of Public Health in conjunction with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.