Megan Hamilton is poised at the forefront of her areas of expertise, Vapor Intrusion (VI) and Risk Assessment, and is becoming one of the nation’s preeminent leaders on related topics. Megan began her focus on the subject of VI in her position as coordinator and team leader for the Indiana Department of Environmental Management’s (IDEM) Vapor Intrusion Workgroup in 2005. As VI was becoming an area of regulatory focus nationwide, IDEM was in need of an expert. With an educational and professional background in risk assessment, Megan was more than prepared to tackle the job. Not only was she primarily responsible for crafting IDEM’s VI Guidance program, an accomplishment that she considers to be one of her greatest, she was also the agency’s lead reviewer of VI data submitted by environmental consultants on contaminated sites state-wide.
This March, Megan heads to Wisconsin and San Diego, California, and later this summer to Atlanta, Georgia for a series of conferences where she has been invited to present her findings on VI sciences as well as participating in a forum on best practices of risk communication. Megan’s vast knowledge of VI and risk communication has given her an inclination to educate others on the topics as well as studies she has conducted that uncover techniques to make the science of VI more efficient and cost effective. In short, her work demonstrates that with a thorough understanding of VI, investigation and vapor mitigation costs can be drastically reduced.
At the Association for Environmental Health & Sciences Foundation (AEHS) Annual Conference in San Diego, Megan will be giving a presentation highlighting a case study she is currently working on which investigates the advantages of Passive TO-17 as compared to the traditional TO-15 Indoor Air Summa Canister Sample Results. Megan notes that “Passive TO-17 Indoor Air Sampling is typically less expensive and a longer exposure duration is measured, which minimizes the inherent variability during VI sampling. Passive TO-17 sampling devices are also less complicated and fewer operational errors are possible.” She hopes that this study will help secure Passive TO-17 as a viable alternative during VI assessments.
Megan continues her work in making VI science as proficient as possible by performing another study of VI conditions at commercial properties. She says that “Currently, the guidance is mostly based on the way vapors behave at residential structures, which tend to be more susceptible to vapor migration into occupied spaces. This approach results in an overly conservative standard that has a tendency to bias low for commercial structures, which may result in unnecessary further assessment. With this study, I’m hoping to highlight the difference between residential and commercial structures to avoid unnecessary investigations.”
Touting a position on the Board of Directors of the Midwestern States Environmental Consultants Association (MSECA) as well as having been invited to join the EPA Advisory Committee on Vapor Intrusion, Megan has had the ability to stay on top of cutting edge topics on not only a local level, but also a national level, with the work groups that establish policy, “Through the EPA Advisory Committee, I stay up-to-date on all current sciences of VI so that we can apply these techniques to our own projects at EnviroForensics. During our meetings, we are reviewing the science and research projects we are working on, evaluating the various techniques and situational settings, and vetting the processes of these approaches to see how they can be applied in a practical manner.”
Later this summer, Megan will be traveling to Atlanta, Georgia where she has been asked to participate in a risk communication forum and demonstrate different scenarios where interaction with the public is commonly needed during environmental investigations. Specifically, communicating with residents living in homes that need to be sampled or where known impacts have been identified. Megan is well-versed in handling a diverse selection of circumstances; from situations where vapor intrusion is threatening local residents to situations where neighboring property owners are concerned about how contamination will affect their property values.
On the home front, as the Director of Vapor Intrusion & Risk Assessment for EnviroForensics, Megan is on the front lines every day, managing the concerns that arise in her field of expertise. Megan sites an example of a problem she might routinely encounter “Recently, we discovered offsite potable drinking water wells on one of our sites that were contaminated with PCE. It was an extremely sensitive situation. We knew we had to act fast to address public health risks. We needed to explain to these folks, in detail, but in simple non-scientific terms, what this meant for the residents and how it could potentially affect them if we weren’t allowed to provide them with an immediate clean water supply. We were allowed to move forward quickly, addressing the issues and advancing the investigation. In this instance, because of the quick response and the way the risks were communicated clearly and empathically, the property owners felt comfortable and even thanked us for the help we were providing.”
During these times of increased vapor intrusion regulation and attention world-wide, EnviroForensics is delighted to have Megan as our Director of Vapor Intrusion and Risk Assessment services. Her experience and expertise in these important areas help us to assist our clients by providing them invaluable advice and service during times when risk and emotions can be at their highest.
EnviroForensics® is an environmental engineering firm specializing in soil and groundwater investigation and remediation and vapor intrusion assessment and mitigation. EnviroForensics® has all the tools available to us to perform the highest caliber science in the market today, which allows designing and implementing knowledgeable, innovative and effective solutions to PCE and TCE contamination. EnviroForensics® has pioneered and perfected the utilization of Comprehensive General Liability insurance policies as a resource to pay for the high costs associated with soil and groundwater investigations, remediation, and legal defense.