New knowledge and methods will lead to more accurate and cost-effective assessment of the groundwater-to-indoor air pathway, the driver for many DoD cleanup actions.

Military installations and surrounding communities across the nation are affected by groundwater contaminated with chlorinated solvents. In recent years, concerns have grown over the migration of contaminated vapors from these groundwater plumes into people’s homes. Vapor intrusion is now often the risk driver for many actions at cleanup sites across the Department of Defense.

The risk from vapor intrusion is a complex process that can be influenced by many variables. Accurately predicting exposure is critical to protect human health and make wise use of resources.

Dr. Paul Johnson and colleagues have successfully linked laboratory-scale research and modeling studies with an integrated field-scale assessment in a real home next to Hill Air Force Base to understand and deal with the impacts of real-world issues such as:

  • the high temporal and spatial variability that makes assessments so complex
  • the uncertain relationship between groundwater concentrations and indoor air
  • the impacts of home construction and  variable soil gas concentrations
  • the large number of other sources of  indoor chemicals

This research has generated the knowledge and methods needed to more accurately and cost-effectively assess the groundwater-to-indoor air pathway. This work will improve DoD’s ability to protect the health of families living on base and neighbors in the surrounding communities, while saving resources so that they can be effectively used at chlorinated solvent sites across the nation.

For this work, Dr. Johnson received a Project-of-the-Year award at the annual Partners in Environmental Technology Technical Symposium & Workshop held November 29 –December 1, 2011, in Washington, D.C.

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