8.2 Perception Issues

Few regulators and consultants had heard of ISM, and even fewer indicated they had appreciable experience with ISM. Based on the survey results, respondents’ experience with and knowledge of the limitations of composite sampling appear to have colored their acceptance of ISM.

Survey respondents indicated that the primary difficulties with ISM are delineation of hot spots, regulatory acceptance, inability to collect ISM VOC samples, delineating the extent of the release, and determining the size and shape of the DU.

To be able to address regulator and consultant perceptions of ISM, the ITRC Team asked a number of questions to rate ISM utility and the difficulty of its application. The results indicated that as a whole, inability of ISM to delineate hot spots was the top difficulty in applying ISM, followed by lack of regulatory acceptance, problems with collecting VOC samples using ISM, inability of ISM to delineate the extent of contamination, and lack of knowledge on how to determine the size and shape of the DU. Regulators saw regulatory issues as the top difficulty in applying ISM. Nonregulators (consultants and laboratories) saw the inability of ISM to delineate hot spots as the top difficulty.

Respondents with lower and higher experience and knowledge perceived ISM differently. Individuals who rated their experience “high” indicated delineation of hot spots as the top problem but at less than half the frequency of less experienced individuals. Those with minimal experience responded that regulatory issues and acceptance as the top difficulty in applying ISM. Respondents also listed limited training and understanding, failure to properly apply systematic planning, application of ISM data, and dealing with VOCs as other major difficulties in applying ISM. It is interesting to note that the main issues are not technical in nature but are related to the application of ISM.

The survey asked respondents whether they had any personal opinion about ISM. For regulators and nonregulators, about one-third had evaluated ISM but used it only rarely. The personal opinions indicated caution regarding the use of ISM. The opinions ranged from questions about cost-effectiveness (laboratory preparation, smaller sites, etc.), applications such as VOC sampling and analysis, applicability to COCs other than explosive compounds, site-screening, and sediment sampling. The responses suggest that the reluctance to use ISM stems from a lack of experience.