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Build Environ. 2016 Feb 1;96:178-187. doi: 10.1016/j.buildenv.2015.11.015. Epub 2015 Dec 2.

Impacts of Changes of Indoor Air Pressure and Air Exchange Rate in Vapor Intrusion Scenarios.

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School of Engineering, Brown University, Providence RI 02912, USA.


There has, in recent years, been increasing interest in understanding the transport processes of relevance in vapor intrusion of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into buildings on contaminated sites. These studies have included fate and transport modeling. Most such models have simplified the prediction of indoor air contaminant vapor concentrations by employing a steady state assumption, which often results in difficulties in reconciling these results with field measurements. This paper focuses on two major factors that may be subject to significant transients in vapor intrusion situations, including the indoor air pressure and the air exchange rate in the subject building. A three-dimensional finite element model was employed with consideration of daily and seasonal variations in these factors. From the results, the variations of indoor air pressure and air exchange rate are seen to contribute to significant variations in indoor air contaminant vapor concentrations. Depending upon the assumptions regarding the variations in these parameters, the results are only sometimes consistent with the reports of several orders of magnitude in indoor air concentration variations from field studies. The results point to the need to examine more carefully the interplay of these factors in order to quantitatively understand the variations in potential indoor air exposures.


Vapor intrusion; indoor air exchange rate; indoor air pressure; modeling

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