Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP
Scott Hitch, Jack Smith, Bernard F. Hawkins, Jr., Weston Adams, Rory Carlisle and Jeanne N. Guest
May 5, 2016
The potential for soil and groundwater contamination to migrate through soil gas (“vapor intrusion”) into interior building spaces is increasingly becoming a critical component of environmental due diligence in real estate transactions, remediation of brownfield sites, and in development of infill areas.
The term “vapor intrusion” refers to contaminated soil or groundwater chemicals that evaporate through the air into a building above. Volatile organic compounds from soil and groundwater releases may vaporize or volatilize, becoming a gas that can find its way into buildings through cracks in the foundation, through openings where plumbing or utilities come into the building, along utility corridors or from sumps designed to keep groundwater from ponding in basements.
Common sources of vapor-forming chemicals include gas stations, dry cleaners and industrial facilities that use chlorinated solvents. In some cases, vapor intrusion may contribute to illness, odors or, rarely, explosion. If vapor intrusion results in high concentrations of hazardous chemicals in indoor air, building occupants breathing in the chemicals may experience headaches, short-term memory lapses, or other symptoms. There is a growing body of scientific research regarding the health risk of long-term exposure to hazardous chemicals in indoor air.