By the earthDr!
The earthDr is in: at - prescriptions (Rx) for a cleaner environment
How can toxic chemicals and mixtures such as benzene, toluene, xylene, MTBE, TCE, arsenic, chromate, mercury, lead, dioxin, PCBs, fuel oil, and gasoline move through subsurface soils and/or the ground-water gaining entry into your home? Why do people worry about the food they eat and the exercise they get; and yet, do not worry about their exposure from contaminants invading their homes?  Our home environment has become one grand experiment that daily introduces us to many contaminants with which we have limited or zero knowledge of short or long term health effects.  This web site is not intended to provide you with any cause and effect relationships for diseases and illnesses such as cancer, autism, diabetes, or lupus.  However, if you are concerned about your home environment and how it is affected by extraneous contamination, especially if it is not of your own doing; then, this web site is for you. This web site is intended to provide you with a structured educational program and also, a topics page where you can seek answers to all pertinent environmental questions concerning exposure pathways from contamination in the subsurface environment and secondarily from contaminated surface soils.  The structured educational program follows a dual track or sometimes a multi-track. Actual examples of environmental exposures and remedies may need to be supplemented by another track that provides a detailed explanation of the physical or chemical mechanisms controlling the exposure pathways illustrated by the examples. The web site will also be updated as my time allows.  Answers to questions posed on the topics page may come from me or anybody else who wishes to attempt to address the questions you post on the topics page.  We make no warranty of our opinions or other's opinions.  Our hope is to provide you with a logical approach to frame the right questions, in order to get the correct answers for protecting your home environment.

Do you live in an urban, suburban, or rural community?

Do think you are most exposed to contamination through the air you breathe, the food you eat, or the drink you drink?  Let's find out.

Possible Exposure Routes to your home: At this web site we will be concerning ourselves mostly with contaminants entering your home through the subsurface.  There will be much discussion of contaminants, such as gasoline, that gains entry to your basement and then, causes a vapor problem. Gasoline vapors are just one source of potential vapor problems in your home. Contaminants entering your home that are air borne (such as from a nearby or distant smokestack) before they enter your home will not be addressed.  There will be little emphasis on those contaminants tracked through your home from contamination of surface soils. We are primarily concerned about contaminants entering your home through the subsurface.

Contaminants that travel through the subsurface and, then enter your home may have been caused by accidental leaks, planned discharges, farming practices, or domestic sources.  Often it doesn't take much mass of contamination to expose you or your family to an unacceptable risk.

Most sources of subsurface contamination entering a home come either through the basement wall/crawl space/slab or through well water that supplies the home.  The likelihood that the source of contamination enters through the basement wall/crawl space/slab or through the well water that supplies your home is often a function of whether the home is located in an urban, suburban, or rural setting.  If your potable water is publicly supplied, then any subsurface contaminant exposure is likely limited to that which can enter through your basement wall, crawl space, or slab.

Potable water is supplied either publicly or privately.  The source of potable water is either surface water or ground water that is publicly or privately supplied.  Individual public water supply systems can supply millions of people with water of potable quality.   A domestic well typically supplies a single home (private dwelling).  In the United States, domestic (individual) wells do not typically supply potable water in urban areas.  In an urban setting, while ground water may be the source of your drinking water (potable water), it would typically not come from a domestic well in your backyard.  It would be coming from a public supply well, which may supply thousands of other people beside you.  Potable supplies of public water should not be a concern since it should be appropriately monitored.  In suburban areas, (individual) domestic wells often are the source for potable water.  In rural settings (individual) domestic wells for potable supply predominate.  It just isn't economical to pipe public water into remote rural areas.  The monitoring of private wells is typically not as stringent as for public supplies, whether or not the public supply is from surface water or ground water.

In a mixed residential-industrial  neighborhood, a potable well requires stringent monitoring to assure water of potable quality since there is a greater potential of accidental and planned discharges to the subsurface from both industrial and domestic sources in an urban area.  In an urban setting, water of potable quality can be more economically assured by a public supplier (purveyor) than by individual homeowners.  In an urban setting even when public water is supplied, there are still other scenarios that can result in entry of subsurface contamination to your home.

There has been a preoccupation with protecting ground water to maintain water quality for potable usage.  There has been almost no concern with protecting ground water to eliminate it as a transport mechanism for spreading contamination throughout neighborhoods and causing vapors problems in homes and other structures.  Most adults, and even children, are familiar with the odor of gasoline. When a vapor problem is from gasoline people recognize it. Unfortunately, not many people exposed to TCE or MTBE are familiar with the odor of either. People exposed to other organic contaminants or toxins, other than gasoline or fuel odor, accept it almost as if it is a natural basement odor. In such a scenario, is there more exposure through the water you drink or through the air you breathe? Ground-water contamination is not just a drinking water problem. Ground-water contamination can be the cause of a vapor exposure to you and your family.

Protecting your local environment all depends upon where you live:  in an urban setting, a suburban setting, or a rural setting.  Where do most exposures to contamination occur: in an urban environment, suburban environment, or rural environment? This web site will help you to protect your home environment from entry of surface and subsurface contaminants. There will be much discussion of transport and remediation of contaminants in the ground water and the soil atmosphere.

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