U.S. EPA Releases Federal Vapor Intrusion Guidance: Everything You Need to Know

Change is in the air on the vapor intrusion (VI) front. After much anticipation by industry professionals, on April 16, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a draft document, the OSWER Final Guidance For Assessing And Mitigating The Vapor Intrusion Pathway From Subsurface Sources To Indoor Air — External Review Draft (PDF) for public comment. The guidance is particularly significant considering that it is the first time in more than a decade that the agency has revised its VI guidance on managing risk at properties with issues stemming from petroleum and chlorinated solvent contamination. When final, the nearly 200-page document will “help ensure VI exposure assessment and mitigation actions to protect human health are undertaken in a technically, scientifically and nationally consistent manner,” said senior U.S. EPA official Richard Kapuscinski in a memo that accompanied the document’s release. The release of EPA’s guidance comes just months before ASTM is poised to release a revised version of E 1527 that adds definitions of migrate/migration to address the vapor pathway as a potential conduit for contamination, in keeping with CERCLA language.

As attention being placed on VI risk increases, environmental professionals and risk managers at financial institutions are taking notice. David Gillay sees the U.S. EPA’s call for comment as “an excellent opportunity to provide input and potentially influence [its] final VI guidance for both hazardous substances and petroleum constituents. All environmental due diligence professionals should closely examine this policy and submit comments to the EPA,” says the attorney (and former environmental engineer) and chair of Barnes & Thornburg’s Brownfields & Environmental Transactional practice Group.

Find out what you need to know about the final VI guidance and read some tips about what EPs should be communicating to clients about the new guidance.