Simulation of the vapor intrusion process for nonhomogeneous soils using a three-dimensional numerical model

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations

Abstract

This paper presents model simulation results of vapor intrusion into structures built atop sites contaminated with volatile or semivolatile chemicals of concern. A three-dimensional finite element model was used to investigate the importance of factors that could influence vapor intrusion when the site is characterized by nonhomogeneous soils. Model simulations were performed to examine how soil layers of differing properties alter soil-gas concentration profiles and vapor intrusion rates into structures. The results illustrate difference in soil-gas concentration profiles and vapor intrusion rates between homogeneous and layered soils. The findings support the need for site conceptual models to adequately represent a site's geology when conducting site characterizations, interpreting field data, and assessing the risk of vapor intrusion at a given site. For instance, in layered geologies, a lower permeability and diffusivity soil layer between the source and building often limits vapor intrusion rates, even if a higher permeability layer near the foundation permits increased soil-gas flow rates into the building. In addition, the presence of water-saturated clay layers can considerably influence soil-gas concentration profiles. Therefore, interpreting field data without accounting for clay layers in the site conceptual model could result in inaccurate risk calculations. Important considerations for developing more accurate conceptual site models are discussed in light of the findings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-104
Number of pages13
JournalGround Water Monitoring and Remediation
Volume29
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology

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