Development and application of a three-dimensional finite element vapor intrusion model

Kelly G. Pennell, Ozgur Bozkurt, Eric M. Suuberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Details of a three-dimensional finite element model of soil vapor intrusion, including the overall modeling process and the stepwise approach, are provided. The model is a quantitative modeling tool that can help guide vapor intrusion characterization efforts. It solves the soil gas continuity equation coupled with the chemical transport equation, allowing for both advective and diffusive transport. Three-dimensional pressure, velocity, and chemical concentration fields are produced from the model. Results from simulations involving common site features, such as impervious surfaces, porous foundation sub-base material, and adjacent structures are summarized herein. The results suggest that site-specific features are important to consider when characterizing vapor intrusion risks. More importantly, the results suggest that soil gas or subslab gas samples taken without proper regard for particular site features may not be suitable for evaluating vapor intrusion risks; rather, careful attention needs to be given to the many factors that affect chemical transport into and around buildings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)447-460
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the Air and Waste Management Association
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The project described was supported by grant no. P42ES013660 from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences or the National Institutes of Health. The authors gratefully acknowledge the thoughtful input provided by Professor Merwin Sib-ulkin of Brown University, who passed away before the publication of this manuscript.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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