Performance indicator for potential health impact analysis within LCA framework and for environmental product declaration (EPD)
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This article proposes an approach describing relative potential toxicological performances of products and allows for comparisons with other products with identical functions. The scores derived at the substance level may be aggregated to the product level for each of the life cycle stages of the product. This approach is intended to become a tool for performance assessment of products. It provides complementary information in addition to results from LCA for environmental product declarations (EPD). This article focuses on describing the impact on human health from exposure to construction products and to their ingredients, compatible with “life cycle thinking”. Ingredient substances can be part of the intended composition or can be relevant residues like monomers in plastics or defined contaminants. The proposed approach can also describe the toxicological impact for other than construction products.
The method describes a dimensionless score suitable for ranking with three characteristics: (1) By a hazard score, it describes chemical products for different applications, e.g. for construction, with regard to the inherent toxicity for humans of their ingredients. (2) It considers exposure potentials to the product’s ingredients by a generic adjustment factor, which may modify potential health impacts. (3) It addresses not only the use stage of a product and its ingredients (e.g. as construction material in a building), but it also includes other life cycle stages of the product’s ingredients.
Results and discussion
The specific method is described which is still under testing. Therefore, no results of any application can be published so far. Since the method provides a scalable, dimensionless score of potential toxicological impacts, independent of time and location, these scores can in principle be aggregated to the building level, comparable to the life cycle assessment (LCA)-based information in an EPD. The different factors make use of the extensive toxicological and exposure data generated under REACH regulation but are not limited to these. Interpretation of such data differs from REACH.
The method can be further developed into a tool for product and building assessment and be provided as (voluntary) additional information in an EPD. It is recommended that the basic concept be adapted to the needs of the users of the information generated with this method (e.g. architects, building assessment) and the providers of information (manufacturers). An intense consultation process with other stakeholders should be organised to establish a final method into a guidance document for unambiguous application.
KeywordsAssessment Environmental product declaration EPD Health impact Life cycle assessment REACH Toxicological performance indicator
Essential contributors to the discussion were Uwe Blumenstein and Dirk Funhoff at BASF SE and Markus Schwarz at FoBiG.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The development of the methodology was funded by BASF SE. The content of this publication is a first idea that requires a further development and consensus building within a larger group in order to establish a widely applicable methodology. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of BASF.
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