Environmental Hazard Evaluation and Environmental Action Levels

An Environmental Hazard Evaluation (EHE) is the link between site investigation activities and response actions carried out to address hazards posed by the presence of contaminated soil and groundwater. Environmental Action Levels (EALs) are concentrations of contaminants in soil, soil gas, and groundwater that are used in decision making throughout the EHE process. This page provides information on EHE guidance and supplemental models in Microsoft Excel; periodic updates to the EALs and associated guidance; and additional resources for related information. Dr. Roger Brewer is the point of contact for the information presented on this page.

EHE Guidance

The document Screening For Environmental Hazards at Sites With Contaminated Soil and Groundwater is a technical report that can be used to expedite the identification of potential environmental hazards at sites with contaminated soil and groundwater as well as assist in the cleanup and redevelopment of these properties. The most current edition of the EHE guidance is dated Summer 2016. The EHE guidance should be used in conjunction with Section 13 of the HEER Office TGM which covers EHE guidance. Note that the EAL document incorporates U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Regional Screening Levels as one of numerous references for published soil, water and air action levels. As discussed the RSL guidance user’s manual, the USEPA RSLs cannot be used as a stand-alone tool to evaluate the need for additional actions at contaminated sites. The USEPA RSLs only address direct exposure of humans to contaminants in soil, and other potential environmental hazards are not considered. Although not required, use of the guidance is strongly recommended. The sections of the guidance can be downloaded below.

A summary of updates and significant changes to previous editions of the EHE guidance is provided in Volume 2, Appendix 9. Revisions to action levels for common contaminants are not expected to significantly alter the results of past site investigations or site investigations currently underway. The EHE guidance and associated references can be downloaded below.

Supplemental Models and Guidance

The EAL Surfer is a searchable, electronic version of the EAL lookup tables. Use of the EAL Surfer to screen site data and expedite preparation of EHE reports is highly recommended. Use of the EAL Surfer to screen site data and expedite preparation of EHE reports is highly recommended. The Surfer automatically generates a summary page that can be included in reports. The Surfer also includes a glossary, a summary of information on the chemical selected and an overview of options for more advanced evaluations of environmental hazards. To use the EAL Surfer you must have Excel 2000 or newer installed on your computer. Simply download the Surfer from the link below then double click on the file to open the program. If you have trouble using the pulldown menus on the Surfer then remove the write protection (under the Tools menu). The password to unprotect the Surfer worksheets is “EAL.” The EAL Surfer is updated on a regular basis and it’s recommended to periodically check back to ensure that you have the most up-to-date edition available. Note – The write-protect password for all Excel file worksheets is EAL.


The EAL Surfer file has an “Updates” page with a summary of updates. Comments and suggestions from the general public are welcome at any time. Updates will be posted to this website and notification sent to persons on the EAL mailing list. Workshops to present and discuss the EALs will also be held periodically. To provide comments or be included on the mailing list for updates and workshop announcements, please contact Roger Brewer.

Additional Resources

  • Related Technical Documents

  • Tropical Pacific Environmental Screening Levels (former "Pacific Basin" edition)

    A similarly named guidance document, referred to as the Tropical Pacific Edition, has been prepared for use in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Island and Guam (formerly referred to as the "Pacific Basin" edition). The Tropical Pacific Edition of the EHE guidance incorporates the USEPA Regional Screening Level models. Similarities and differences between this guidance and the Hawaii EAL guidance and the USEPA RSL guidance are discussed in Volume 1 of the guidance.