Estimating initial contaminant mass based on fitting mass-depletion functions to contaminant mass discharge data: Testing method efficacy with SVE operations data

J. Mainhagu, Mark L Brusseau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

The mass of contaminant present at a site, particularly in the source zones, is one of the key parameters for assessing the risk posed by contaminated sites, and for setting and evaluating remediation goals and objectives. This quantity is rarely known and is challenging to estimate accurately. This work investigated the efficacy of fitting mass-depletion functions to temporal contaminant mass discharge (CMD) data as a means of estimating initial mass. Two common mass-depletion functions, exponential and power functions, were applied to historic soil vapor extraction (SVE) CMD data collected from 11 contaminated sites for which the SVE operations are considered to be at or close to essentially complete mass removal. The functions were applied to the entire available data set for each site, as well as to the early-time data (the initial 1/3 of the data available). Additionally, a complete differential-time analysis was conducted. The latter two analyses were conducted to investigate the impact of limited data on method performance, given that the primary mode of application would be to use the method during the early stages of a remediation effort. The estimated initial masses were compared to the total masses removed for the SVE operations. The mass estimates obtained from application to the full data sets were reasonably similar to the measured masses removed for both functions (13 and 15% mean error). The use of the early-time data resulted in a minimally higher variation for the exponential function (17%) but a much higher error (51%) for the power function. These results suggest that the method can produce reasonable estimates of initial mass useful for planning and assessing remediation efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)152-157
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Contaminant Hydrology
Volume192
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology

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