Volatile Organic Compounds
AND VAPOR INTRUSION
WHAT ARE VOCs?
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are a combination of gases and odors emitted from many different toxins and chemicals found in everyday products.
WHERE DO VOCs COME FROM?
Common household sources of VOCs include building materials such as paint, caulk, and adhesives; home & personal products like cleaning products, cosmetics, and heating oil; and activities such as smoking, burning, and cooking... THEY CAN ALSO BE FOUND IN CONTAMINATED SOIL AND GROUND WATER; ENTERING AS VAPOR THROUGH BUILDING FOUNDATIONS
WHY DO WE CARE ABOUT VOCs?
It is important to remember that VOCs refer to a group of chemicals. Each chemical has its own toxicity and potential for causing different health effects. The risk of health effects from inhaling any chemical depends on how much is in the air, how long and how often a person breathes it in.
WHY TO DO ABOUT VOCs?
Fortunately, with GOOD MONITORING VOCs can be reduced through careful organization of house hold sources, proper ventilation, and regular HVAC system and filter maintenance...
HOWEVER, MOST HOMEOWNERS, BUSINESS OWNERS, AND PROPERTY OWNERS ARE UNAWARE OF CHEMICALS AND POLLUTANTS MIGRATING FROM CONTAMINATED SITES INTO THEIR HOMES AND BUILDINGS THROUGH THE SUBSURFACE. THIS IS KNOWN TO THE EPA AS
Vapor intrusion occurs when there is a migration of vapor-forming chemicals from any subsurface source into an overlying building. Recognition of soil vapor intrusion to buildings and other enclosed spaces occurred in the 1980s with concerns over radon intrusion. Subsequently, there was an increasing awareness that anthropogenic chemicals (e.g., petroleum hydrocarbons and chlorinated solvents) in soil, groundwater, and sewers and drainlines could also pose threats to indoor air quality via the vapor intrusion pathway.
Besides the myriad acute and chronic health issues that could arise from VOC exposure, especially the nasty chemicals like Benzene and Hydrofluoric Acid, there could also be, in extreme cases, immediate physical dangers such as explosions.
The EPA Action Level for these chemicals vary, however in most cases Vapor Intrusion will require sub-slab mitigation.