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3 Reasons Vapor Intrusion Should Be On Your Radar

December 17, 2013

When we think of hazardous materials, we don’t always think about vapors.  But research seems to suggest we should.

Vapor intrusion is a pretty new concept, and is used to describe the process in which chemical vapors from contaminated groundwater or soil migrate to and affect the indoor quality in a building.  Whenever chemicals are discharged into the ground by leakage or spillage (check out our article 5 Common Risks Of Hazardous Materials Storage to see how you can prevent this from happening), they can soak into the soil or dissolve into the groundwater and begin to spread. The contaminated groundwater or soil can then secrete vapors that spread to areas occupied by buildings. Vapors can enter the buildings through cracks in sewer lines, foundations, or other types of openings.

This is a problem because:

  • Vapors can be dangerous and affect your health.  Exposure to high levels of chemical vapors can cause symptoms such as headaches, nausea, respiratory irritation, and dizziness.  These symptoms are normally temporary and subside pretty quickly, but it is possible for long term exposure to elevate the risk of cancer or chronic diseases.
  • Vapors can accumulate to levels that lead to serious near-term safety hazards, such as explosions.
  • Vapors can come with an unpleasant, occasionally foul odor, and make your life at home or business miserable (and keep friends and customers at a distance!)

Vapor intrusion can occur anywhere.  Its potential can generally be verified or ruled out by collecting soil gas samples or ground water samples near the contamination site. In some situations, however, it is necessary to sample immediately beneath the site – it just depends.

Vapor intrusion isn’t common, but it’s definitely worth knowing about.  If you have reason for suspicion, or otherwise have concerns about vapor intrusion where you live or work, the EPA recommends that you contact your state health department.

Our team of experts specializes in issues related to soil contamination, sewer line cracks, soil gas sampling, groundwater sampling, vapor intrusion prevention, and compliance with EPA guidelines. You can also learn more through the EPA’s webpage on Vapor Intrusion:

For further information and assistance with your hazardous materials or hazardous waste removal challenges, contact Hazardous Waste Experts at 800-936-2311.

Disposal of hazardous waste doesn’t have to be painful.