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Investigation of indoor air quality has been on the upswing in recent years. In this article, we focus on how the transport of subsurface vapors into indoor air spaces, a process known as ‘vapor intrusion’, (VI) is defined and addressed. For environmental engineers and physical scientists who specialize in this emerging indoor environmental exposure science, VI is notoriously difficult to characterize, leading the regulatory community to seek improved science-based understandings of VI pathways and exposures. Yet despite the recent growth in VI science and competition between environmental consulting companies, VI studies have largely overlooked the social and political field in which VI problems emerge and are experienced by those at risk. To balance and inform current VI studies, this article explores VI science and policy and develops a critique of what we call ‘source science politics’. Drawing inspiration from the creative synthesis of social and environmental science/engineering perspectives, the article offers a transdisciplinary approach to VI that highlights collaboration with social scientists and impacted communities and cultivates epistemic empathy.