In this research, the radioactive noble gas radon was used as a tracer for Non-Aqueous Phase Liquids (NAPLs) contamination, since it is much more soluble in these substances than in air or water. Soil radon remains trapped within the NAPLs, resulting in a local reduction in the radon concentration within close proximity to the contaminated area. This technique was applied to a contaminated site in Roma (Italy). The main residual NAPLs are total hydrocarbons and methyl-tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE), a water-soluble additive. The monitoring activities included two sampling campaigns of groundwater from 18 wells in February and May 2020. Concentration maps were produced using radon data. The results show that the radon deficit traces the location of NAPLs in the fuelling station very well, with a residual source zone extending in a NNW-SSE direction. A good correspondence between a low amount of radon and a higher concentration of NAPLs was found. A reduction in the average amount of radon in the May 2020 survey indicated a stronger remobilization of NAPLs compared to that of the February 2020 monitoring campaign. The peaks of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) detected between 8–9 and 11–12 m depths indicate the presence of residual blobs of NAPLs in the vadose zone of the aquifer.
Mattia, M., Tuccimei, P., Soligo, M., Carusi, C. (2020). Radon as a natural tracer for monitoring napl groundwater contamination. WATER, 12(12), 3327 [10.3390/w12123327].