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?”

EPA Officially Characterizes Perchloroethylene as ‘Likely Human Carcinogen’

Written by John Bird, P.G., Vice President, EnviroForensics.

On Friday, February 10, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published the final health assessment for perchloroethylene (Perc) to the EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) database.  EPA’s IRIS is a human health assessment program that evaluates risk information on effects that may result from exposure to environmental contaminants.   Perc is a chemical solvent widely used in the dry cleaning industry.  This health assessment appears to confirm longstanding scientific understanding and research, that Perc is a “likely human carcinogen.”  For the first time, the EPA provides estimates for both cancer and non-cancer effects associated with exposure to Perc over a lifetime.

It’s important to note that the EPA does not believe that wearing clothes dry cleaned with perc will result in exposures which pose a risk of concern.  EPA has already taken several significant actions to reduce exposure to Perc. EPA has clean air standards for dry cleaners that use Perc, including requirements that will phase-out the use of Perc by dry cleaners in residential buildings by December 21, 2020. EPA also set limits for the amount of Perc allowed in drinking water and levels for cleaning up Perc at Superfund sites throughout the country, which will be updated in light of the IRIS assessment. Continue reading “EPA Officially Characterizes Perchloroethylene as ‘Likely Human Carcinogen’”

Zero-Valent Iron Shows Promise As a Strong Chemical Reducer of Perc

Written by Steve Henshaw, P.G., President & CEO, EnviroForensics, in Collaboration with Keith Gaskill, L.P.G., Project Manager and Geochemist, EnviroForensics
As seen in the May 2011 issue of Cleaner & Launderer

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Zero-valent iron (ZVI) has been used in the groundwater remediation industry for several decades.  Typically, granular scale ZVI was emplaced in trenches serving as a permeable reactive barrier wall, whereby contaminated groundwater would flow through the wall and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like Perc would react with the material and breakdown.

This technology worked so well that scientists started applying the ZVI into contamination source areas and hot spots.  Recent advances have produced smaller scale iron particles that can be mixed into a slurry and pumped into the ground through the use of pre-existing injection technologies.  Continue reading “Zero-Valent Iron Shows Promise As a Strong Chemical Reducer of Perc”

Anatomy of Cleanup

Indianapolis firm helps dry cleaner in Bloomington remove contaminated soil

Written by Mercedes Rodriquez
Published in The Herald-Times July 12, 2008

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Bloomington – About 120 tons of soil were removed from the site of Bloomington Cleaners, a dry cleaning business owned by Steve Arthur, during the week of June 30.

Arthur says though he entered the cleaning business in 1992, his building had housed dry cleaners for more than 35 years. Equipment used in the past more prone to leaks and spills. It was time to clean up, he said. The Indianapolis firm EnviroForensics was brought in to do environmental cleanup, to remove soil under the building and under the parking lot. The soil was found to be contaminated with perchloroethylene, a chemical used in the dry cleaning process. EnviroForensics officials estimate that a job the size of Bloomington Cleaners would costs roughly $500,000. Continue reading “Anatomy of Cleanup”