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Ecosystems Research, Athens GA
Migration of volatile chemicals from the subsurface into overlying buildings is called vapor intrusion (VI). Volatile organic chemicals in contaminated soils or groundwater can emit vapors, which may migrate through subsurface soils and may enter the indoor air of overlying buildings. Building depressurization may cause these vapors to enter the home through cracks in the foundation. Depressurization can be caused by a combination of wind effects and stack effects, which are the result of heating within the building and/or mechanical ventilation. In extreme cases, the vapors may accumulate in dwellings to levels that may pose near-term safety hazards, such as explosion. Typically, however, vapor concentrations are present at low levels, to which long-term exposure may pose increased risk for chronic health effects.
This on-line calculator implements the Johnson and Ettinger (J&E) (Johnson and Ettinger, 1991) simplified model to evaluate the vapor intrusion pathway into buildings. This J&E model replicates the implementation that the US EPA Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (OSWER) used in developing its draft vapor intrusion guidance, but includes a number of enhancements that are facilitated by web implementation: temperature dependence of Henry's Law Constants and gaseous diffusivities, automatic sensitivity analysis of certain parameters, and others described on the background page.
The results you obtain from this OnSite implementation of the Johnson and Ettinger model may differ from other versions of the Johnson & Ettinger Model. In addition to the OSWER implementation that was used for the draft vapor intrusion guidance, EPA Office of Emergency Response and Remediation (OERR) distributes a set of spreadsheet implementations of the model. The differences among these implementations is described in detail on the results page. Beyond these differences the on-line version includes a simplified uncertainty analysis the other implementations lack.
What do these results mean?
Comments or suggestions
Contact Jim Weaver to ask a technical question on this material.
The Seal of the United States Environmental Protection Agency
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