Development of a modular vapor intrusion model with variably saturated and non-isothermal vadose zone
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Human health risk assessment at hydrocarbon-contaminated sites requires a critical evaluation of the exposure pathways of volatile organic compounds including assessments of vapor exposure in indoor air. Although there are a number of vapor intrusion models (VIM) currently available, they rarely reproduce actual properties of soils in the vadose zone. At best, users of such models assume averaged parameters for the vadose zone based on information generated elsewhere. The objective of this study was to develop a one-dimensional steady-state VIM, indoorCARE™ model, that considers vertical spatial variations of the degree of saturation (or effective air-filled porosity) and temperature of the vadose zone. The indoorCARE™ model was developed using a quasi-analytical equation that (1) solves the coupled equations governing soil–water movement driven by pressure head and a soil heat transport module describing conduction of heat and (2) provides a VIM that accommodates various types of conceptual site model (CSM) scenarios. The indoorCARE™ model is applicable to both chlorinated hydrocarbon and petroleum hydrocarbon (PHC) contaminated sites. The model incorporates biodegradations of PHCs at a range of CSM scenarios. The results demonstrate that predictions of indoor vapor concentrations made with the indoorCARE™ model are close to those of the J&E and BioVapor models under homogeneous vadose zone conditions. The newly developed model under heterogeneous vadose zone conditions demonstrated improved predictions of indoor vapor concentrations. The research study presented a more accurate and more realistic way to evaluate potential human health risks associated with the soil-vapor-to-indoor-air pathways.
KeywordsVapor intrusion model Site screening Risk assessment Spatial variation Volatile organic hydrocarbon
Health screening level
Non-aqueous phase liquid
Conceptual site model
Soil organic matter
Underground storage tank
Vapor intrusion model
Volatile organic compound
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