Vapor Intrusion Assessments: Can You Trust Your Indoor Air Data?

Written by Jeff Carnahan, L.P.G, Senior Project Manager, EnviroForensics in collaboration with Stephen Henshaw, P.G., President & CEO, EnviroForensics.

As seen in the February 2012 issue of Cleaner & Launderer

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If you’ve ever had to hire an environmental consultant to investigate your property and collect samples, you’ve probably had to look at an analytical report from a laboratory and use it to answer some pretty important questions.  Is there contamination on my property? What chemicals are present? How much is there?  Most importantly, are the levels of contamination high enough to be causing harmful health effects? Only slightly less importantly, are they high enough to require a costly cleanup?  You needed to know the answers to all of these questions so that you could sell or buy a property, get a business loan, or maybe just to sleep at night.  With today’s trend of highly regulated vapor intrusion (VI) assessments being required at sites where dry cleaning with perchloroethene (PCE) has taken place, these questions have become increasingly important and more difficult to answer.

While there are challenges associated with environmental assessments of all kinds; determining the level of hazardous constituents in a building’s indoor air, assessing from where it may have come and evaluating if an unacceptable health risk exists for human occupants can be particularly delicate.  For those property owners who need answers to the questions posed in the situation above, it is extremely important that samples of indoor air collected during VI assessments are representative of the air actually being breathed by the building’s occupants and that the laboratory results can be relied upon.  Continue reading “Vapor Intrusion Assessments: Can You Trust Your Indoor Air Data?”

Getting your Best Cleanup for your Money

Why Won’t This Stuff Just Go Away?

Written By Keith Gaskill, L.P.G., Project Manager & Geochemist, EnviroForensics, in collaboration with Stephen R. Henshaw, P.G., President & CEO, EnviroForensics.
As seen in the December 2011 issue of Cleaner & Launderer.

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Environmental cleanups are most often a complex undertaking with both soil and groundwater contamination.  A certain amount of creativity is required to complete a site cleanup within acceptable timeframes, regulatory requirements, and of course, budget. 

Ideally, once a cleanup begins, it ends when all contaminants have been removed.  Sounds simple enough. Many times, cleanup projects start very well and appear to be heading toward closure (even under budget) but the cleanup appears to stop working.

Why did it stop working?

Continue reading “Getting your Best Cleanup for your Money”

Fate of Spilled Perc in the Subsurface: Understanding the Basics When it Gets in the Ground

Written By Keith Gaskill, L.P.G, Project Manager and Geochemist, EnviroForensics.

As seen in the July 2011 issue of Cleaner & Launderer.

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Releases of Perchloroethylene (PCE) to the subsurface from drycleaning operations and related PCE handling are not rare.  The result of environmental investigation in response to a confirmed spill is not only to determine the concentration of materials in the ground, but to develop a conceptual site model as to where the contaminant is going.  Once a model of what’s there, where it’s going and how it’s getting there has been constructed, a remedy can be selected and implemented. 

The releases at the surface consist of primarily two types.  Free phase PCE in dense non-aqueous phase liquid (DNAPL) pure form and dissolved phase PCE in water.  Current accidental releases are often spills resulting from the drycleaning process.  Historically, chemical handling practices were not as refined as they are today and there may have been releases related to cleaning of filters; distiller boil-overs; storage equipment failures, or disposal of hazardous process waste as well as spills from older drycleaning machines and operations.  The PCE may be introduced to the subsurface on dirt or gravel, which allows an easy pathway to the soil, or will travel directly, though untreated concrete (and can even dissolve asphalt).  Continue reading “Fate of Spilled Perc in the Subsurface: Understanding the Basics When it Gets in the Ground”

Maximizing Your Business Asset

Written by Stephen Henshaw, P.G., President & CEO, EnviroForensics
As seen in June 2011 issue of Cleaner & Launderer

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Just a few short years ago it was nearly impossible for me to have an open and honest discussion with dry cleaners about the possibility that soil and groundwater beneath their business might be impacted with dry cleaning solvents. Understandably, dry cleaners were scared that the value of their business would be diminished if such conditions existed. Environmental investigations and cleanups can be costly and legal bills alone are more than many businesses can afford. Hiding one’s head in the sand does little to build or preserve a business as an asset.

Over the years I have preached the merits of looking for old insurance policies, normal everyday comprehensive general liability (CGL) policies, to see if they can be utilized to assist in funding site investigation and remediation costs. Even though we have countless success stories in this unique, specialized business area of finding the funding to pay investigation and cleanup costs, rarely a week goes by where we discover a dry cleaner that is either unaware that old policies have great value or they think that there is a better day ahead to implement this strategy. The reality is that with few exceptions, there is no time like the present. Continue reading “Maximizing Your Business Asset”

Vapor Intrusion; Who’s DEFAULT is it?

Written by Steve Henshaw, P.G., President & CEO, EnviroForensics, in Collaboration with Jeff Carnahan, L.P.G., Senior Project Manager, EnviroForensics.

As seen in the March 2011 issue of Cleaner & Launderer.

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As most drycleaners know, at some time in the not too distant future, you or someone you know will have to deal with the accidental release of perchloroethylene (Perc) or Stoddard solvent.  Even if the release is decades old and unknown to the current owner/operator, soil and/or groundwater contamination may come to light during a property transaction, a refinance or through the course of standard due diligence investigations.  This finding commonly results in a demand by the state environmental regulatory agency to determine the extent of the contamination and if necessary, remediate the contamination. 

Environmental regulatory agencies often prioritize contaminated sites based on whether or not people may come into contact with, or be exposed to toxic chemicals.  The three primary ways (or pathways) that people can come into contact with these chemicals is by getting contaminated soil or groundwater on their skin, eating and ingesting contaminated soil or groundwater, or by inhaling the chemicals that volatilize from the contaminated soil or groundwater.  If it is determined that one of these potential exposure pathways is complete, it becomes a priority to abate the exposure immediately, even before the extent of the impacts have been fully defined.  Continue reading “Vapor Intrusion; Who’s DEFAULT is it?”