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May/June 2008
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New Standard Provides for Assessment of Potential for Vapor Intrusion into Structures

underground gasoline storage tank

Two of the most pervasive contributors to vapor intrusion are leaking underground gasoline storage tanks (shown above) and dry cleaners.

Vapor intrusion from contaminated soil and groundwater into structures can potentially create significant liability and have a material impact on property value. Because of this, accurately determining whether a property has vapor intrusion issues is a concern for property owners, prospective purchasers and environmental professionals conducting due diligence.

ASTM International Committee E50 on Environmental Assessment, Risk Management and Corrective Action has now approved a new standard, E2600, Practice for Assessment of Vapor Intrusion into Structures on Property Involved in Real Estate Transactions, which will provide guidance for vapor intrusion testing. The standard is under the jurisdiction of Subcommittee E50.02 on Real Estate Assessment and Management.

Anthony J. Buonicore, chair of ASTM Task Group E50.02.06 on Vapor Intrusion, says E2600 defines good commercial and customary practice for conducting a vapor intrusion assessment on a property parcel involved in real estate transactions. “The specific intent was to establish a methodology to determine whether or not there is a reasonable probability that vapor intrusion could present an environmental risk and liability,” says Buonicore. For commercial real estate transactions, Buonicore notes that the vapor intrusion investigation, as defined by E2600, could be used independently of, or as a supplement to, E1527, Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process.

The evaluation process, as described in E2600, consists of four tiers. The first two screening tiers are used to assess the potential for a vapor intrusion issue to exist, so that properties with a low risk can be screened out quickly and inexpensively. The third tier provides for more site-specific and comprehensive investigation if the potential for vapor intrusion cannot reasonably be eliminated at the Tier 1/Tier 2 levels, while Tier 4 addresses mitigation alternatives.

According to Buonicore, because timeliness may be more important than investigation or mitigation costs during real estate transactions, an E2600 user does not need to proceed sequentially through the tiers in the standard. “In most cases, however, it is expected that it would be more cost effective and sufficient time would be available in the real estate transaction to conduct at a minimum a Tier 1 screening evaluation and, if necessary, a Tier 2 screening evaluation before proceeding to a more costly and time-consuming Tier 3 investigation or to Tier 4 mitigation,” says Buonicore. He also notes that the process described in E2600 is designed to complement existing federal and state vapor intrusion policies or guidance.

“ASTM was selected as the best venue to develop the standard because of ASTM’s internationally recognized consensus-based process that has been used so successfully over the years,” says Buonicore. “ASTM is able to bring together stakeholders representing all sides of an issue and work with them to achieve consensus.”

A training class, Assessment of Vapor Intrusion into Structures on Property Involved in Real Estate Transactions, will now be held on a regular basis throughout the United States. More information on the training sessions can be found by clicking here.

CONTACT

Technical Information: Anthony J. Buonicore, P.E., Milford, Conn.

Phone: 800/238-1841

ASTM Staff: Daniel Smith

Phone: 610/832-9727