The definitions on this page originally appeared on the United States Environmental Protection Agency's website.
Vadose Zone: The zone between land surface and the water table within which the moisture content is less than saturation (except in the capillary fringe) and pressure is less than atmospheric. Soil pore space also typically contains air or other gases. The capillary fringe is included in the vadose zone. (See: Unsaturated Zone.)
Valued Environmental Attributes/Components: Those aspects(components/processes/functions) of ecosystems, human health, and environmental welfare considered to be important and potentially at risk from human activity or natural hazards. Similar to the term "valued environmental components" used in environmental impact assessment.
Vapor: The gas given off by substances that are solids or liquids at ordinary atmospheric pressure and temperatures.
Vapor Capture System: Any combination of hoods and ventilation system that captures or contains organic vapors so they may be directed to an abatement or recovery device.
Vapor Dispersion: The movement of vapor clouds in air due to wind, thermal action, gravity spreading, and mixing.
Vapor Plumes: Flue gases visible because they contain water droplets.
Vapor Pressure: A measure of a substance's propensity to evaporate, vapor pressure is the force per unit area exerted by vapor in an equilibrium state with surroundings at a given pressure. It increases exponentially with an increase in temperature. A relative measure of chemical volatility, vapor pressure is used to calculate water partition coefficients and volatilization rate constants.
Vapor Recovery System: A system by which the volatile gases from gasoline are captured instead of being released into the atmosphere.
Variance: Government permission for a delay or exception in the application of a given law, ordinance, or regulation.
Vector: 1. An organism, often an insect or rodent, that carries disease. 2. Plasmids, viruses, or bacteria used to transport genes into a host cell. A gene is placed in the vector; the vector then "infects" the bacterium.
Vegetative Controls: Non-point source pollution control practices that involve vegetative cover to reduce erosion and minimize loss of pollutants.
Vehicle Miles Travelled (VMT): A measure of the extent of motor vehicle operation; the total number of vehicle miles travelled within a specific geographic area over a given period of time.
Ventilation Rate: The rate at which indoor air enters and leaves a building. Expressed as the number of changes of outdoor air per unit of time (air changes per hour (ACH), or the rate at which a volume of outdoor air enters in cubic feet per minute (CFM).
Ventilation/Suction: The act of admitting fresh air into a space in order to replace stale or contaminated air; achieved by blowing air into the space. Similarly, suction represents the admission of fresh air into an interior space by lowering the pressure outside of the space, thereby drawing the contaminated air outward.
Venturi Scrubbers: Air pollution control devices that use water to remove particulate matter from emissions.
Vinyl Chloride: A chemical compound, used in producing some plastics, that is believed to be oncogenic.
Virgin Materials: Resources extracted from nature in their raw form, such as timber or metal ore.
Viscosity: The molecular friction within a fluid that produces flow resistance.
Volatile: Any substance that evaporates readily.
Volatile Liquids: Liquids which easily vaporize or evaporate at room temperature.
Volatile Organic Compound (VOC): Any organic compound that participates in atmospheric photochemical reactions except those designated by EPA as having negligible photochemical reactivity.
Volatile Solids: Those solids in water or other liquids that are lost on ignition of the dry solids at 550° centigrade.
Volatile Synthetic Organic Chemicals: Chemicals that tend to volatilize or evaporate.
Volume Reduction: Processing waste materials to decrease the amount of space they occupy, usually by compacting, shredding, incineration, or composting.
Volumetric Tank Test: One of several tests to determine the physical integrity of a storage tank; the volume of fluid in the tank is measured directly or calculated from product-level changes. A marked drop in volume indicates a leak.
Vulnerability Analysis: Assessment of elements in the community that are susceptible to damage if hazardous materials are released.
Vulnerable Zone: An area over which the airborne concentration of a chemical accidentally released could reach the level of concern.