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Northern Region
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Vapor intrusion

Chemicals used in commercial activities – such as dry cleaning chemicals, chemical degreasers and petroleum products such as gasoline – are sometimes spilled or leaked into soil and groundwater. These chemicals, known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), often become gases or vapors which can travel from contaminated groundwater and soil and enter buildings. This process is known as vapor intrusion.

This page contains general information about vapor intrusion for property owners, tenants and the general public. For more detailed information about vapor intrusion, visit vapor intrusion resources for environmental professionals.

Vapor intrusion videos

Vapor Intrusion 101 [exit DNR] - This video, using a hand-drawn/animation technique, introduces the concept of vapor intrusion to people who may be unfamiliar with it by showing the root cause, how it spreads underground, and what can be done about it.

The Responsible Neighbor, A Vapor Instrusion Story [exit DNR] This video for consultants and responsible parties shows how good communication with neighbors benefits everyone involved with an environmental cleanup.

Vapor intrusion resources

The manometer measures suction created by the vapor mitigation system fan.  The uneven levels of the liquid indicate the system fan is running but cannot be used exclusively to determine the effectiveness of the system.

What is Vapor Intrusion (RR-892) [PDF] - Certain chemicals that get spilled or discharged into the ground emit gases, or vapors, that can move through the soil. These vapors may enter a house or building through cracks, holes, drains and other small openings in a basement floor, wall or foundation slab. This is called vapor intrusion. It is similar to how radon, a naturally occurring gas, enters a house or building.

Why Test for Vapor Intrusion? (RR-953) [PDF] - If a nearby property is contaminated it is possible that chemical gases, or vapors, are moving through the soil and could be entering your house or building. Sampling and testing discovers whether or not these soil gases are present in your indoor air.

What to Expect During Vapor Intrusion Sampling (RR-954) [PDF] - The collection of soil gas samples is performed by environmental professionals. It involves drilling one or more small holes into a basement floor or foundation, extracting soil gas from under the building into an airtight container, and then sending the soil gas sample to a specialized laboratory for testing and analysis. Samples of indoor air may also be collected and sent to the lab.

Understanding Chemical Vapor Intrusion Testing Results (RR-977) [PDF] - If vapor samples were taken from underneath your house or building, and possibly indoors as well, these samples have been tested by a certified laboratory and results were reported. The DNR uses these test results to determine if people in the building are being exposed to chemical vapors coming from nearby contaminated soil or groundwater, and to decide what, if any, action is needed to prevent this exposure.

Who Should I Contact About Vapor Intrusion Investigations? (RR-934) [PDF] - This document defines the responsibilities of Department of Health Services/Division of Public Health (DHS/DPH), local health departments and DNR staff in assessing and mitigating human health risk at vapor intrusion sites.

Environmental Contamination & Your Real Estate (RR-973) [PDF] - When soil or groundwater contamination is discovered in a rural or urban area, one of the questions that homeowners may raise is whether such information will impact the market value of their property and if so, to what extent.

Health information

For more information about vapor intrusion and health, see the Wisconsin Department of Health Service's vapor intrusion fact sheet Health Hazards: Vapor Intrusion [PDF exit DNR] and visit the Environmental Protection Agency's Basic Information for Vapor Intrusion [exit DNR].

Last revised: Monday December 11 2017