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Institutional Controls (ICs)

Institutional controls are non-engineered instruments, such as administrative and legal controls, that help minimize the potential for human exposure to contamination and/or protect the integrity of the remedy. Although it is EPA's expectation that treatment or engineering controls will be used to address principal threat wastes and that groundwater will be returned to its beneficial use whenever practicable, ICs play an important role in site remedies because they reduce exposure to contamination by limiting land or resource use and guide human behavior at a site. For instance, zoning restrictions prevent site land uses, like residential uses, that are not consistent with the level of cleanup.

ICs are used when contamination is first discovered, when remedies are ongoing and when residual contamination remains onsite at a level that does not allow for unlimited use and unrestricted exposure after cleanup. The National Contingency Plan (NCP) emphasizes that ICs are meant to supplement engineering controls and that ICs will rarely be the sole remedy at a site. Additional information on ICs is provided in the sidebar links to the left.

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