Environmental Forensics

Environmental Forensics is the science of connecting pollution events to their causes through historical document review and a series of defensible analytical techniques usually referred to as fingerprinting. It may involve field analytical studies, data interpretation, and data modeling. Environmental forensics generally targets the reconstruction of past environmental events, such as the timing, types, amounts, and sources of chemical releases to the environment. While routine environmental investigations characterize the type and extent of contamination at the time of sampling, environmental forensics provides historical information related to contaminant age, sources, emission pathways, and fate and transport in the environment. In other words, forensic methods help answer the questions, “Where did the contaminants originate, when were they released, and how did they get to where they are now?”

As a developing discipline, these detailed fingerprinting investigations are currently used primarily to provide evidence for legal disputes and help with allocation of costs among responsible parties. Increasingly, though, the power of environmental forensics techniques to reconstruct the past is making them attractive for application to projects that are not litigation driven. These techniques provide insight into subsurface conditions, which ultimately leads to better decision making, and more efficient, less costly remediation.

ToxStrategies consulting scientists provide cutting-edge, cost-effective environmental forensics expertise for a variety of applications, including litigation support, site evaluation, and remediation. Our forensics team is composed of experienced scientists and engineers from a variety of backgrounds, including chemistry/biochemistry, geology/hydrogeology, chemical engineering, statistics, risk assessment, and toxicology. Our forensics work is led by Dr. Ioana Petrisor, who has been at the forefront of the field  for more than a decade and is the editor of the Journal of Environmental Forensics. As part of these endeavors, ToxStrategies scientists frequently publish peer-reviewed articles and textbooks, obtain professional certifications and advanced academic degrees, become actively involved in professional societies and scientific boards of international environmental conferences, and regularly present and chair professional workshops and classes. Typical applications of environmental forensics include:

  • Source identification and allocation
  • Age-dating
  • Forensic sampling and analysis
    • Chemical fingerprinting
    • Isotopic fingerprinting
    • Mineralogical fingerprinting
    • Environmental tracers
    • Data visualization, data mining, and multivariate statistics
    • Tree-ring fingerprinting
    • DNA fingerprinting
  • Building defensible evidence for litigation cases
    • Data usability evaluation
    • Identification of site-specific contaminant background levels
    • Data visualization and trial exhibits
  • Air modeling
  • Human health risk assessment
    • Exposure assessment from consumer products
    • Indoor air evaluations
  • Liability cost assessment and allocation

For more information about our services please contact us.