A REGULATORY AND TECHNICAL UPDATE
Potential Costs, Lack of Consensus Make Vapor Intrusion a Liability for Site Owners
Thirty-two years ago, vapor intrusion (VI)—the migration of volatile chemicals from the subsurface into overlying buildings—was the focus of national attention. Residents of Love Canal, a neighbor- hood in Niagara Falls, N.Y., that was built on top of 21,000 tons of toxic chemical waste, com- plained about strange odors and substances in their yards and homes. Exposures to toxic chemicals were linked to birth defects, miscarriages and other health problems. The federal government declared Love Canal to be a public health emergency and relocated more than 800 families.
Unfortunately, VI problems didn’t end with Love Canal. Recently, environmental investigations
and remediation operations were needed at the Hillside School in Needham, Mass., at the Redfield
site in Denver, Colo., and at the former IBM facility in Endicott, N.Y. Because of the recognized
dangers associated with VI, a thicket of regulations and guidance have grown up around the subject.
This article provides an update on VI regulatory and technical guidance, litigation and resources.
BY MICHELLE GILLIE, CIH, CPEA, AND SANDRA GAURIN, ERM, LEED AP