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Green Remediation Best Management Practices: Soil Vapor Extraction & Air Sparging

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Principles for Greener Cleanups outlines the Agency's policy for evaluating and minimizing the environmental 'footprint' of activities undertaken when cleaning up a contaminated site. Use of the best management practices (BMPs) recommended in EPA's series of green remediation fact sheets can help project managers and other stakeholders apply the principles on a routine basis, while maintaining the cleanup objectives, ensuring protectiveness of a remedy, and improving its environmental outcome. Historically, approximately one-quarter of Superfund source control projects have involved soil vapor extraction (SVE) to remove volatile organic compounds (VOCs) sorbed to soil in the unsaturated (vadose) zone. Air is extracted from, and sometimes injected into, the vadose zone to strip VOCs from the soil and transport the vapors to ex situ treatment systems for VOC destruction or recovery. Air sparging (AS) involves injection of air into contaminated groundwater to drive volatile and semivolatile contaminants into the overlying vadose zone through volatilization. SVE is commonly implemented in conjunction with air sparging to remove the generated vapor-phase contamination from the vadose zone. This document can also be accessed at http://semspub.epa.gov/src/document/HQ/147896.

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