Vapor intrusion occurs when vapors from chemicals that are contaminating nearby soil or groundwater seep into a home or building. Anytime chemicals are spilled or leak into the soil from a buried storage tank it is possible for the chemicals to spread and cause soil vapor intrusion. This vapor contamination from the soil can spread from the contaminated site to nearby buildings and homes. Vapors enter buildings through any type of opening including sewer pipes, cracks, and foundations. In some cases, the vapors can reach concentrations that are harmful to human health and necessitate vapor intrusion mitigation.
Exposure to high concentrations of chemical vapors can cause a host of health issues. These include, but are not limited to the following:
– Respiratory irritation
– Irritated and burning eyes
In most cases these symptoms will abate once the vapor exposure is ended. In cases where the exposure occurs over a long period of time (typically low level exposure over years), the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases is elevated.
Because most homes contain a variety of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), it is not sufficient to test inside the home to determine if vapor intrusion guidance is needed. Indoor tests cannot confirm the source of the VOCs. Typically, soil gas samples are taken from near the contaminated soil or groundwater to determine if vapor intrusion can be confirmed or ruled out. In some instances it is necessary to do testing immediately below the foundation of the building or home.
In New Jersey, contractors follow the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) vapor intrusion guidance to determine safe vapor levels.
If a vapor intrusion problem is detected, the most common way of dealing with it is by installing a vapor intrusion mitigation system. These work in a similar fashion to radon mitigation systems by venting the contaminating vapor from the soil before it is able to enter the building. These systems are easy to set up and use and require only a minimal amount of electricity to function. Please contact us for a full appraisal if you feel your home may be subject to vapor intrusion.