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Turning Down the Heat on BaP Cleanups

Benzo(a)pyrene (BaP) is a polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) and known carcinogen.  BaP results from the incomplete combustion of organic materials including wood, coal, petroleum products, and charbroiled foods.  A study recently published by the US EPA may come as a relief to land developers and barbeque enthusiasts alike.

The US EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) Toxicological Review of Benzo(a)pyrene, published in January 2017, concluded that BaP – while still carcinogenic – may not be as toxic as once thought.  Oral ingestion of BaP is now considered less of a risk to human health.  The study also provided evidence for carcinogenic effects from inhalation and non-cancer related health effects; although, the oral ingestion toxicity will likely dominate the development of remediation standards.

The impact of the study’s findings could loosen the stringent remediation standards that often add increased headache for land-development projects.  BaP is ubiquitous throughout urban and industrial environments.  BaP is one of the major PAHs that drive cleanup of industrial soils and groundwater at many redevelopment sites.

Early projections of state remediation standards indicate target remediation concentrations of BaP could rise anywhere from double to a full order of magnitude or greater than the current standards.  Qualifying limits for clean fill could be raised as well, greatly increasing available materials for redevelopment projects.

Additional updates to state-specific remediation standards are expected to be available later this year.  Check back to the Environmental Standards website and blog for further information and updates.