DeVaull, G.E., R.A. Ettinger, and J. Gustafson, "Chemical Vapor Intrusion from Soil or Groundwater to Indoor Air:Significance of Unsaturated Zone Biodegradation of Aromatic Hydrocarbons."Soil and Sediment Contamination, vol. 11, no. 3: pp. 625-641.
The soil vapor to indoor air exposure pathway is considered in a wide number of risk-based site management programs. In screening-level assessments of this exposure pathway, models are typically used to estimate the transport of vapors from either subsurface soils or groundwater to indoor air. Published studies indicate that the simple models used to evaluate this exposure pathway often over estimate the impact for aromatic hydrocarbons (e.g., benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xy-lene or BTEX), while showing reasonable agreement for estimates of chlorinated hydrocarbon impacts (e.g., PCE, TCE, DCE). Aerobic biodegradation of the petroleum hydrocarbons is most often attributed as the source of this disparity in the model/ data comparisons. This paper looks at the significance of aerobic biodegradation of aromatic hydrocarbons as part of the assessment of chemical vapor intrusion from soil or groundwater to indoor air. A review of relevant literature summarizing the available field data as well as various modeling approaches that include biodegradation is presented. This is followed by a simple modeling analysis that demonstrates the potential importance of biodegradation in the assessment of the soil vapor to indoor air exposure pathway. The paper concludes with brief discussions of other model considerations that are often not included in simple models but may have a significant impact on the intrusion of vapors into indoor air.