The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment

, Volume 16, Issue 8, pp 788–794 | Cite as

Comparing priority setting in integrated hazardous substance assessment and in life cycle impact assessment

  • Tuomas Mattila
  • Matti Verta
  • Jyri Seppälä



The purpose of the study was to compare three recent Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA) models in prioritizing substances and products from national emission inventories. The focus was on ecotoxic and human toxic impacts. The aim was to test model output against expert judgment on chemical risk assessment.

Materials and methods

An emission inventory was collected for Finland describing the year 2005. The inventory included publicly reported emissions to air and water and it was complemented by the emissions of tributyltin, benzene, and pesticides from research papers and statistics. The emissions were characterized with three LCIA models: IMPACT 2002+, ReCiPe, and USEtox and priority substances were identified. The results were connected to an environmentally extended input–output model to study priority products and supply chains. A comparison was made with two integrated assessments of the chemical status and human exposure in the Baltic region.

Results and discussion

The three assessed models presented very different priorities. In ecotoxicity, IMPACT2002+ and USEtox highlighted heavy metals while ReCiPe focused on tributyltin. The integrated assessment identified both groups. In human toxicity, IMPACT2002+ and the integrated assessment focused on organic air pollutants while USEtox and ReCiPe identified mainly metals.


LCIA models can be used for priority setting in chemical emission control and consumption based analyses. However the models give differing prioritizations so care must be taken in model selection. The studied models differed from expert assessment mostly in substances which are bioaccumulative. Further studies in including bioaccumulation to LCIA models of toxic impact are recommended.


Ecotoxic impact assessment Emission inventory Environmentally extended input–output analysis Human toxic potential Priority substance Structural path analysis 


  1. Alaviippola B, Pietarila H, Hakola H, Hellén H, Salmi T (2007) Preliminary assessment of air quality in Finland. Arsenic, cadmium, nickel, mercury and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH compounds) (in Finnish). Finnish Meteorological Institute. Accessed 20 Apr 2011
  2. Assmuth T, Jalonen P (2005) Risks and management of dioxin-like compounds in Baltic fish: an integrated assessment. TemaNord 2005:568. Nordic Council of Ministers 2005Google Scholar
  3. Birkved M, Hauschild MZ (2006) PestLCI—a model for estimating field emissions of pesticides in agricultural LCA. Ecol Model 198:433–451CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. EC (2004) Synthesis of baseline reports in the framework of the European Environment and Health Strategy (COM(2003)338 final). European Commission, BrusselsGoogle Scholar
  5. ECHA (2008) Member state committee support document for identification of bis(tributyltin) oxide as a substance of very high concern. ECHA European Chemicals AgencyGoogle Scholar
  6. EPA (2009) Sustainable materials management: the road ahead. Relative ranking of materials, products and services consumed in the U.S. using selected environmental criteria. United States Environmental Protection Agency, Washington DCGoogle Scholar
  7. EVIRA (2010) The chemical contaminants of foodstuffs and household water. Finnish Food Safety Authority EviraGoogle Scholar
  8. Goedkoop M, Heijungs R, Huijbregts M et al (2009) ReCiPe 2008. A life cycle impact assessment method which comprises harmonised category indicators at the midpoint and the endpoint level. Accessed 20 Apr 2011
  9. Hauschild MZ, McKone TE, van de Meent D et al (2010) USEtox organic database 1.01. Accessed 20 Apr 2011
  10. Heijungs R, Guinee J, Kleijn R, Rovers V (2007) Bias in normalization: causes, consequences, detection and remedies. Int J Life Cycle Assess 12:211–216CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. HELCOM (2010) Hazardous substances in the Baltic Sea. An integrated thematic assessment of hazardous substances in the Baltic Sea. Helsinki, Finland, HELCOM Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission. Accessed 20 Apr 2011
  12. Hendriks A, Heikens A (2001) The power of size. 2. Rate constants and equilibrium ratios for accumulation of inorganic substances related to species weight. Environ Toxicol Chem/SETAC 20(7):1421–1437CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Huijbregts M, Struijs J, Goedkoop M, Heijungs R, Hendriks A, van de Meent D (2005) Human population intake fractions and environmental fate factors of toxic pollutants in life cycle impact assessment. Chemosphere 61:1495–1504CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Jolliet O, Margni M, Humbert S, Payet J, Rebitzer G, Rosenbaum R (2003) IMPACT2002+: a new life cycle impact assessment methodology. Int J Life Cycle Assess 8:324–330CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Lenzen M (2003) Environmentally important paths, linkages and key sectors in the Australian economy. Struct Chang Econ Dyn 14(1):1–34CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Lenzen M, Crawford R (2009) The path exchange method for hybrid LCA. Environ Sci Technol 43:8251–8256CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. MacLeod M, Scheringer M, McKone T, Hungerbuhler K (2010) The state of multimedia mass-balance modeling in environmental science and decision-making. Environ Sci Technol 44(22):8360–8364CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Mattila T, Verta M (2008) Modeling the importance of biota and black carbon as vectors of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in the Baltic Sea ecosystem. Environ Sci Technol 42(13):4831–4836CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Ministry of the Environment (2006) Organotin compounds in Finnish water regions (in Finnish). Helsinki, FinlandGoogle Scholar
  20. Pietarila H, Alaviippola B, Hellén H, Salmi T, Laurila T, Hakola H (2002) The preliminary assessment under the EC air quality directives in Finland. Carbon monoxide and benzene. Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, FinlandGoogle Scholar
  21. Rosenbaum R, Bachmann T, Gold L, Huijbregts M, Jolliet O, Juraske R, Koehler A, Larsen HF, MacLeod M, Margni M, McKone TE, Payet J, Schumacher M, van de Meent D, Hauschild MZ (2008) USEtox – the UNEP/SETAC-consensus model: recommended characterization factors for human toxicity and freshwater ecotoxicity in Life Cycle Impact Assessment. Int J Life Cycle Assess 13(7):532–546CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Sass JB, Colangelo A (2006) European Union bans atrazine, while the United States negotiates continued use. Int J Occup Environ Health 12(3):260–267Google Scholar
  23. Seppälä J, Mäenpää I, Koskela S et al (2009) Estimating the environmental impacts of the material flows of the Finnish national economy (in Finnish). Finnish Environment 20Google Scholar
  24. Sleeswijk A, van Oers LFCM, Guinee J, Struijs J, Huijbregts M (2008) Normalisation in product life cycle assessment: an LCA of the global and European economic systems in the year 2000. Sci Total Environ 390:227–240CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Statistics Finland (2006) Energy statistics 2005. Electricity and heat production by production mode and fuel type. Accessed 20 Apr 2011
  26. Suh S (2009) Handbook of Input-Output Economics in Industrial Ecology. 2nd ed. SpringerGoogle Scholar
  27. Suh S, Huppes G (2005) Methods for life cycle inventory of a product. J Cleaner Prod 13(7):687–697CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. UNEP (2010) Assessing the environmental impacts of consumption and production: priority products and materials. United Nations Environmental Programme, ParisGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Finnish Environment Institute SYKEHelsinkiFinland

Personalised recommendations