Spatiotemporal variability of tetrachloroethylene in residential indoor air due to vapor intrusion: a longitudinal, community-based study

Jill E Johnston, Jacqueline MacDonald Gibson
2013 Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology  
The migration of volatile contaminants from groundwater and soil into indoor air is a potential health threat at thousands of contaminated sites across the country. This phenomenon, known as vapor intrusion, is characterized by spatial and temporal heterogeneity. This study examined short-term fluctuations in concentrations of tetrachloroethylene (PCE) in the indoor air of residential homes due to vapor intrusion in a community in San Antonio, Texas, that sits atop an extensive, shallow plume
more » ... contaminated groundwater. Using a community-based design, we removed potential indoor sources of PCE and then collected twelve 3-day passive indoor air samples in each of the 20 homes. Results demonstrated a one-order-of-magnitude variability in concentration across both space and time among the study homes, although all measured concentrations were below risk-based screening levels. We found that within any given home, indoor concentrations increase with the magnitude of the barometric pressure drop (P ¼ 0.048) and humidity (Po0.001), while concentrations decrease as wind speed increases (Po0.001) and also during winter (P ¼ 0.001). In a second analysis to examine sources of spatial variability, we found that indoor air PCE concentrations between homes increase with groundwater concentration (P ¼ 0.030) and a slab-on-grade (as compared with a crawl space) foundation (P ¼ 0.028), whereas concentrations decrease in homes without air conditioners (P ¼ 0.015). This study offers insights into the drivers of temporal and spatial variability in vapor intrusion that can inform decisions regarding monitoring and exposure assessment at affected sites.
doi:10.1038/jes.2013.13 pmid:23549403 fatcat:akw225bacrgplfe34m6v5gulh4