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Section 4: Source Characterization

Although the HRS is designed to score releases and sites, sources and areas of observed contamination play a crucial role in determining HRS pathway scores. Sources and areas of observed contamination are central to the evaluation of the likelihood of release factor categories and the hazardous waste quantity factors. Source and area of observed contamination information is also frequently used in identifying the hazardous substances associated with a site and in determining where targets are located relative to the site. Thus, complete and accurate characterization and documentation of both sources and areas of observed contamination are essential in producing defensible site scores.

Both "source" and "area of observed contamination" are specifically defined concepts in the HRS whose definitions do not exactly correspond to their common usage. Areas of observed contamination will be addressed in the soil exposure pathway sections.

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