What is Vapor Intrusion And Why Is It A Concern?


The process of vapor intrusion takes place when vapors and gases from polluted groundwater or soil enter indoor air spaces through gaps or cracks present in building materials and foundations. This issue is not limited to residential buildings but also occurs in industrial, commercial, and public buildings, along with schools. Vapor intrusion has become a growing concern due to the potential health risks associated with exposure to harmful chemicals. The subsurface contains several chemicals that can migrate into indoor air through vapor intrusion, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as TCE, PCE, and benzene. Other chemicals that can be present in the subsurface include petroleum hydrocarbons like diesel fuel and gasoline, along with PCBs that were banned in the 1970s but were previously used in industrial applications and electrical equipment.

Vapor intrusion can occur in any building built over contaminated soil or groundwater, regardless of age or construction type. It is most common in buildings near industrial or former industrial sites, such as dry cleaners, gas stations, and chemical manufacturing plants. However, vapor intrusion can also occur in residential neighborhoods and other areas with contaminated spills, leaks, or other sources. The health risks associated with exposure to chemicals through vapor intrusion are significant. Exposure to high levels of VOCs, for example, can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, and other symptoms. Long-term exposure to high VOC levels can also cause cancer, liver and kidney damage, and central nervous system damage. In addition, PCBs can cause skin rashes, respiratory problems, and damage to the immune system.

Children, pregnant women, and the elderly are particularly vulnerable to the health risks of exposure to chemicals through vapor intrusion. Children, in particular, are at risk because they breathe more air per pound of body weight than adults. As a result, their developing bodies are more susceptible to the toxic effects of chemicals.

In addition to the health risks, vapor intrusion can have significant financial implications for property owners and tenants. Buildings affected by vapor intrusion can be difficult to sell or lease and may require expensive remediation measures to address the problem. Tenants who are exposed to high levels of chemicals through vapor intrusion may experience health problems and may be forced to vacate the premises.

It is crucial for property owners and tenants to be informed about vapor intrusion and to take necessary actions to avoid health hazards and financial consequences. To tackle this issue, they may need to conduct tests to detect chemical presence in indoor air, recognize the possible sources of pollution, and take measures to impede the further spread of chemicals into indoor spaces.

Why Vapor Intrusion Investigation Is Important

  • Vapor intrusion poses a risk to public health due to potential exposure to dangerous chemicals that can lead to cancer, respiratory problems, and neurological disorders. To safeguard public health, it is necessary to detect and address the sources of vapor intrusion to prevent such health issues from arising.
  • To guarantee the safety of buildings, Vapor intrusion investigations are often mandated by state and federal regulatory agencies. Any failure to comply with these investigations may lead to legal consequences like fines and other penalties.
  • It is important to prevent property damage caused by vapor intrusion as it can harm buildings and other structures gradually. By detecting and resolving the root cause of vapor intrusion, we can avoid such damage and increase the lifespan of these structures.
  • If a property is known to have problems with vapor intrusion, it can lose its value and reputation. Thus, it is important for property owners to detect and address vapor intrusion issues to prevent any negative impacts on their investments and maintain the value of their properties.
  • Conducting vapor intrusion investigations is essential to safeguarding the well-being of the public, complying with regulations, preventing harm to properties, and preserving their worth. No details can be left out when undertaking these investigations.


The rise of vapor intrusion is becoming a bigger worry due to the possible health hazards linked to being exposed to harmful substances. This occurrence may happen in any structure constructed above polluted soil or water, and it can result in significant financial consequences for tenants and property owners. To avoid potential risks and damages, it is crucial for both parties to acknowledge the problem and take appropriate measures to resolve it.