Assessment of Public Health Risks Associated with Naphthalene Entering Residences and Commercial Space from Vapor Intrusion at MGP Sites


Naphthalene, a constituent of coal tar, is a contaminant frequently found at former manufactured gas plants (MGP). Development at these sites has resulted in residential and commercial areas with potential exposures from vapor intrusion adversely affecting indoor air of residences and buildings. Naphthalene is routinely analyzed in soil vapor intrusion assessments for properties overlying and surrounding former MGP sites. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a proposed unit risk factor and the State of California has promulgated a unit risk factor for naphthalene. Naphthalene exposure from vapor intrusion is potentially a public health risk. The purpose of this study was to evaluate three sites located in the northeast United States to determine the frequency of naphthalene detection in indoor air. A total of 79 properties were included in the study. A total of 546 indoor air samples were analyzed for naphthalene on 161 occasions. Naphthalene concentrations ranged from 0.26 to 51 μg/m3 of air. Only 3 of the 546 indoor air samples detected naphthalene above the ninety-fifth percentile background value of 12 μg/m3 of air. Risk analysis indicated naphthalene vapor intrusion was not a public health risk among the 79 properties built on or near the former MGP sites.

Share and Cite:

DeHate, R. , Skelly, B. , Bourgeois, M. , Johnson, G. and Harbison, R. (2013) Assessment of Public Health Risks Associated with Naphthalene Entering Residences and Commercial Space from Vapor Intrusion at MGP Sites. Journal of Environmental Protection, 4, 11-17. doi: 10.4236/jep.2013.412A1002.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] R. B. DeHate, G. T. Johnson and R. D. Harbison, “Risk Characterization of Vapor Intrusion in Former Manufactured Gas Plant Sites,” Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, Vol. 59, No. 2, 2011, pp. 353-359.
[2] United States Environmental Protection Agency, “Compendium of Methods for the Determination of Toxic Organic Compounds in Ambient Air, 2nd Edition, Compendium Method TO-15 Determination of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs),” Air Collected in Specially-Prepared Canisters and Analyzed by Gas Chromatography/ Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS), Center for Environmental Research Information, Office of Research and Development, Cincinnati, 1999.
[3] Electric Power Research Institute, “50 MGP Site Management Portfolio,” Federal Register, Vol. 77, No. 88, 2008, pp. 26751-26755.
[4] L. Turczynowicz and N. I. Robinson, “Exposure Assessment Modeling for Volatiles—Towards an Australian indoor vapor intrusion model,” Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A, Vol. 70, No. 19, 2007, pp. 1619-1634.
[5] D. J. Vorhees, W. H. Weisman and J. B. Gustafson, “Human Health-Risk Based Evaluation of Petroleum Release Sites: Implementing the Working Group Approach,” Total Petroleum Hydrocarbon Criteria Working Group, Vol. 5, Amherst Scientific Publishers, Amherst, 1999.
[6] T. E. McHugh, L. Beckley, D. Bailey, K. Gorder, E. Dettenmaier, I. Rivera-Duarte, S. Brock and I. C. Mac-Gregor, “Evaluation of Vapor Intrusion Using Controlled Building Pressure,” Environmental Science & Technology, Vol. 46, No. 9, 2012, pp. 4792-4799.
[7] G. J. Kullman and R. A. Hill, “Indoor Air Quality Affected by Abandoned Gasoline Tanks,” Applied Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, Vol. 5, No. 1, 1990, pp. 36-37.
[8] M. L. Fischer, A. J. Bentley, K. A. Dunkin, A. T. Hodgson, W. W. Nazaroff, R. G. Sextro and J. M. Daisey, “Factors Affecting Indoor Air Concentrations of Volatile Organic Compounds at a Site of Subsurface Gasoline Contamination,” Environmental Science & Technology, Vol. 30, No. 10, 1996, pp. 2948-2957.
[9] C. L. Moseley and M. R. Meyer, “Petroleum Contamination of an Elementary School: A Case History Involving Air, Soil-Gas, and Groundwater Monitoring,” Environmental Science & Technology, Vol. 26, No. 1, 1992, pp. 185-192.
[10] F. Y. Griego, K. T. Bogen, P. S. Price and D. L. Weed, “Exposure, Epidemiology and Human Cancer Incidence of Naphthalene,” Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, Vol. 51, No. 2, 2008, pp. S22-S26.
[11] P. C. Johnson, R. A. Ettinger, J. Kurtz, R. Bryan and J. E. Kester, “Migration of Soil Gas Vapors to Indoor Air: Determining Vapor Attenuation Factors Using a Screening-Level Model and Field Data from the Cdot-Mtl Denver,” Colorado Site, American Petroleum Institute, 2002.
[12] G. T. Johnson, S. C. Harbison, J. D. McCluskey and R. D. Harbison, “Characterization of Cancer Risk from Airborne Benzene Exposure,” Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, Vol. 55, No. 3, 2009, pp. 361-366.
[13] Y. Yao, R. Shen, K. G. Pennell and E. M. Suuberg, “Examination of the Influence of Environmental Factors on Contaminant Vapor Concentration Attenuation Factors Using the U.S. EPA’s Vapor Intrusion Database,” Environmental Science & Technology, Vol. 47, No. 2, 2013, pp. 906-913.
[14] S. Batterman, J. Y. Chin, C. Jia, C. Godwin, E. Parker, T. Robins, P. Max and T. Lewis, “Sources, Concentrations, and Risks of Naphthalene in Indoor and Outdoor Air,” Indoor Air, Vol. 22, No. 4, 2012, pp. 266-278.
[15] T. E. McHugh, J. A. Connor and F. Ahmad, “An Empirical Analysis of the Groundwater-to-Indoor-Air Exposure Pathway: The Role of Background Concentrations in Indoor Air,” Environmental Forensics, Vol. 5, No. 1, 2004, pp. 33-44.
[16] M. Vidali, “Bioremediation. An Overview,” Pure and Applied Chemistry, Vol. 73, No. 7, 2001, pp. 1163-1172.
[17] International Agency for Research on Cancer, “Traditional Herbal Medicines, Some Mycotoxins, Naphthalene, and Styrene,” IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans, Vol. 82, IARC, Lyon, 2002.
[18] United States Environmental Protection Agency, “Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) Toxicological Profile 0436,” Naphthalene, 1998.
[19] G. Garvey, R. DeHate, E. A. Kazmarek and C. Geiger, “Implications of Naphthalene Carcinogenicity for MGP Investigation and Cleanup,” Electric Power Research Institute, Atlanta, 2007.
[20] Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, “Toxicological Profile for Naphthalene 1-Methylnaphthalene, and 2-Methylnaphthalene,” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Atlanta, 2005.
[21] United States Environmental Protection Agency, “Building Assessment and Survey Evaluation (BASE 1994-1996),” 2001.
[22] P. S. Price and M. A. Jayjock, “Available Data on Naphthalene Exposures: Strengths and Limitations,” Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, Vol. 51, No. 2, 2008, pp. 15-21.
[23] National Toxicology Program, “Toxicology and Carcinogenesis Study of Naphthalene in B6C3F1 Mice (Inhalation Studies),” Technical Report Series No. 410, 1992.
[24] National Toxicology Program, “Toxicology and Carcinogenesis Study of Naphthalene in F344/N Rats (Inhalation Studies),” Technical Report Series No. 500, 2000.
[25] J. R. Lewis, “Naphthalene Animal Carcinogenicity and Human Relevancy: Overview of Industries with Naphthalene-Containing Streams,” Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, Vol. 62, No. 1, 2012, pp. 131-137.

Copyright © 2024 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.