Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): Volatile Organic Compounds are toxic organic chemicals with higher tendencies to change from liquid to vapor phase under typical earth pressures and temperatures, and usually have little-to-no water solubility characteristics. VOCs are commonly found within hydrocarbon-based fuel additives, industrial solvents, refrigerants, hydraulic fluids, degreasers, and more. These compounds are generally known to be toxic, and result in adverse health effects upon human exposure. For instance, a liquid-phase tetrachloroethene (PCE) contamination plume may volatilize over time, creating a soil vapor intrusion scenario to the buildings aboveground. As a result, workers inside the building become exposed to the colorless and odorless VOC, in the form of vapor inhalation.
VOCs Soil & Groundwater Contamination
When a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment reveals “recognized environmental conditions,” professional geologists test the subsurface for VOC soil contamination. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Laboratory Analysis Method 8260B applies to test soil and groundwater samples underlying fuel underground storage tanks (UST), dry cleaners, underground hydraulic lifts, waste oil tanks, etc.
Phase 2 Environmental Site Assessments and Indoor Air Quality Tests can help identify VOC contamination. Afterward, each volatile organic compound detection is run across the applicable screening level. And Human Health Risk Assessments aim to determine toxicity thresholds upon exposure.
If soil and groundwater contamination is present, a remedial action plan aims to clean up the soil contamination at the source. Lastly, impervious vapor barriers mitigate VOC pollution hazards to building occupants during and after remediation.
EPA List of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
The following list provides the names of each volatile organic compound on the EPA list, per EPA Laboratory Method 8260B.
- Vinyl Chloride
- Freon 113
- Methylene Chloride
- Carbon tetrachloride
- Tetrachloroethene (PCE)
- Trichloroethene (TCE)
- 2-Chloroethylvinyl ether
- 1,2-Dibromoethane (EDB)
- 2-Butanone (MEK)
- 4-Methyl-2-pentanone (MIBK)
- Vinyl Acetate
- Methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE)
- Ethyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (ETBE)
- N,N-Diisopropylethylamine (DIPE)
- tert-Amyl methyl ether (TAME)
- T-Butyl Alcohol
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