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  • What is vapor intrusion and its impact?

    Vapor intrusion occurs when contaminates and chemicals, perhaps from a polluted site, leach down into the ground water and begin to flow with the groundwater. If the ground water flows near, or underneath a building, contaminated vapors from the water can travel up through the soil, and into a closed building or house through the basement, floor, or cracks in the wall. The most likely source of such volatile vapors is that of industrial dump sites, and contaminates that are left in the soil. There are many such solvents and degreasers, petroleum residue, and improperly disposed components like these. These are called volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. The VOCs themselves are fairly stable, but at the level of the water table they can evaporate and assume to a vapor, thus traveling through soils that are overlying the groundwater. The commonly found pollutants are perchiorethylene, trichloroethylene, Benzene, toluene and xylene. These are all very toxic to humans, and can cause discomfort and disorders of human health.

    Up to this point in time, these groundwater contaminates were only viewed as doing damage to the groundwater only, and there was not much attention taken to study any vapors that might be present. Only recently have authorities begun to study the effects of active vapor intrusion sites to determine the effects that such exposure could cause. Studies of samples of vapors have been collected and tested to determine the amounts and locations of such vapors and to determine where it goes.

    At this point sites that have these vapors are commonly remediated with equipment that is vapor-extraction in nature, and if the vapors are found to be present inside of buildings, the vapors can be eliminated with vapor extraction systems that work in a similar way as those devices that are in use for removing radon gas.

    18 Jun

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