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The APTIM Xchange | A Closer Look at the Pending Changes to the ASTM E1527 Standard

The current ASTM standard for performing Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (ESA) published in 2013, expires on December 31, 2021. The ASTM Phase I ESA Task Group is in the final stages of updating the standard. APTIM is monitoring the proposed changes to the standard and here is what you need to know:

Key Definition Clarifications

  • REC/CREC/HREC There are still a lot of differences in the industry in how consultants determine these in the ESA reports. The revised standard may emphasize that a CREC only applies to the Subject Property.
  • Term “likely” The task group is focused on further clarifying the term “likely” and plans to include specific examples and a flowchart in an appendix to the standard.

Regulatory File Reviews

  • Title Records The revised standard may clarify that a title record search is not required because in most cases the report user is already performing the search as part of the Subject Property purchase.
  • Historical Sources Review The revised standard may require that multiple historical sources be reviewed instead of just one source. The task group is discussing potentially requiring review of historical aerial photographs, historical topographic maps and fire insurance maps.
  • Adjoining Property Research The task group found that there is insufficient research and reporting on adjoining properties, specifically those that are down-gradient. Therefore, the revised standard will likely require specific actions to review adjoining properties, such as city directory reviews.


  • Term “Subject Property” The revised standard will likely require the use of the term “Subject Property” versus “Property” or “Site” to gain consistency.
  • REC/CREC/HREC Another potential revision is to require a discussion of the rationale for calling an issue a REC/CREC/HREC in the opinion section of the report. The revised standard will likely require further discussion of data gaps.
  • Removal of Generic Terms. Finally, instead of generic terms for property usage like “commercial” or “industrial,” the revision may require the actual specific usage and possibly site activities to be stated in the report.
  • Recommendations The current standard does not require recommendations to be stated in the report and this will likely not change. The presentations that APTIM attended noted that there have been cases where the report user was held liable for not following documented recommendations.
  • Date Viability The revised standard will likely clarify the six-month shelf-life of the report is not based on the report date but rather when the site visit occurred and when records and reports were issued.
  • Emerging Contaminants Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are among a list of emerging contaminants currently being considered in the proposed revisions. These will likely be discussed in the non-scope considerations of the report. Much more discussion will take place on this topic.

The Task Group is hoping to finalize the proposed changes to the ASTM 1527-13 standard by mid-2021 with the goal for the EPA to incorporate the revised standard into the Code of Federal Regulations by the end of the year. APTIM will provide updates to the standard revision in this newsletter throughout the year.

Michael Jennings, Project Manager

APTIM. In Pursuit of Better.