One of the goals of the French national campaign called "Etablissements Sensibles (Sensitive Establishments)" is to evaluate indoor air degradation in schools because of vapor intrusion of volatile compounds from soil gases towards the indoor air, related to the presence of former industrial sites on or near the establishment. During this campaign, as recommended by the United States of Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), indoor air quality was evaluated from soil gas concentrations using generic attenuation factors, and extra investigations into soil gases and indoor air were performed when the estimated values exceeded target indoor air concentrations. This study exploits matched data on subsurface soil gases and indoor air that came from the "Sensitive Establishments" campaign. It aims to consolidate and refine the use of attenuation factors as a function of environmental variables acquired routinely during environmental assessments. We have been able to select the measured environmental variables that have the most influence on vapor intrusion using Principal Components Analysis and hypotheses tests. Since the collected data are mainly related to weak sources (only 15% schools required risk management measures related to vapor intrusion), halogenated volatile organic compounds (HVOC) were selected as tracer compounds for vapor intrusion for this study. This choice enables the exclusion or minimization of background sources contributions. From the results we have calculated the descriptive statistics of the attenuation factors distribution for the subslab-to-indoor air pathway and refined the attenuation factors for this pathway through an easily obtained parameter, building age. Qualitative comparison of attenuation factors according to the building age shows that attenuation factors observed for building less than 50 years are lower than attenuation factors for buildings 50 years old and above. These results show the utility of creating databases for consolidating and refining attenuation factors and therefore improving their use.
Virginie Derycke, Aline Coftier, Clément Zornig
The Science of the total environment