Insights into vapour intrusion phenomena: Current outlook and preferential pathway scenario

Article


Unnithan, Aravind, Bekele, Dawit Nega, Chadalavada, Sreenivasulu and Naidu, Ravi. 2021. "Insights into vapour intrusion phenomena: Current outlook and preferential pathway scenario." Science of the Total Environment. 796, pp. 1-16. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.148885
Article Title

Insights into vapour intrusion phenomena: Current outlook and
preferential pathway scenario

ERA Journal ID3551
Article CategoryArticle
AuthorsUnnithan, Aravind (Author), Bekele, Dawit Nega (Author), Chadalavada, Sreenivasulu (Author) and Naidu, Ravi (Author)
Journal TitleScience of the Total Environment
Journal Citation796, pp. 1-16
Article Number148885
Number of Pages16
Year2021
PublisherElsevier
Place of PublicationNetherlands
ISSN0048-9697
1879-1026
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.148885
Web Address (URL)https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969721039577
Abstract

Vapour intrusion (VI) is the phenomenon by which volatile organic compounds (VOCs) migrate from the subsurface source through the soil and enter into the overlying buildings, affecting the indoor air quality and ultimately causing health hazards to the occupants. Health risk assessments associated with hydrocarbon contaminated sites and recommendations of site closure are often made by quantifying the VI risks using mathematical models known as ‘vapour intrusion models’ (VIM). In order to predict the health risk, various factors such as the lithological and geochemical conditions of the subsurface, environmental conditions, building operational conditions etc. are commonly evaluated using VIMs. Use of these models can overlook the role of preferential pathways like highly permeable subsurface layers and utility lines which act as the path of least resistance for vapour transport, which can increase the VI risks. The extensive networks of utility lines and sanitary sewer systems in urban areas can significantly exacerbate the uncertainty of VI investigations. The backfill materials like sand and gravel surrounding the utility lines can allow the vapours to easily pass through due to their high porosity as compared to natural formations. Hence, failure to understand the role of preferential pathways on the fate and transport of VOC in the vadose zone can result in more conservative predictions of indoor air vapour concentrations and wrong clean up approaches. This comprehensive review outlines the vapour transport mechanisms, factors influencing VI, VIMs and the role of preferential pathways in predicting indoor air vapour concentrations.

KeywordsPreferential pathways; Transport mechanisms; Vapour intrusion; Vapour intrusion models
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020410402. Environmental assessment and monitoring
Byline AffiliationsUniversity of Newcastle
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
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