Skip to main content

Comparison of environmental impact and external cost assessment methods

Abstract

Background, aim, and scope

Impact assessment can be completed with the help of Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA) as a part of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and External Cost Assessment methods. These methods help, for project and product classifications, to protect human health and the environment. Comparison of different impact assessment methods along parallel evaluations of real air pollution case studies helps to detect similarities and dependencies between them. The comparison helps and supports the work in both areas by mutually exploiting the merits of both methods. On the other hand, the detected similarities and dependencies also support the accuracy of the assessment work.

Materials and methods

Two impact assessment methods are compared to detect the dependencies between them. These are: the damage-oriented Life Cycle Impact Assessment method Eco-indicator 99 (EI99) and the Cost-Benefit Analysis (CAFE CBA) carried out within the framework of the Clean Air for Europe Programme of the European Union. Arithmetic comparison of the two methods’ impact indicators is carried out in order to show how differently they assess and evaluate the environmental impacts of the same pollutants. Moreover, air pollution inventories of five industrialized cities in Poland are evaluated in parallel with the two impact assessment methods. The uncertainties of the two methods are also considered and Monte Carlo simulations are completed to obtain probability intervals of impact indicators and overall mean values of the generated populations.

Results and discussion

The arithmetic comparison of the impact indicators shows a strict correlation between the two impact assessment methods. This correlation is confirmed by results of the parallel evaluation of the real case studies. The comparison of the overall mean values obtained by the Monte Carlo simulations also shows a clear dependency between the results of the two impact assessment methods. After detecting the dependencies between the two methods, the best guess values of the EI99 indicator are selected and applied to make a ranking of the air pollutants and their emission sources for an industrialized Polish city.

Conclusions

It can be concluded that the detected correlation between the two methods (EI99 and CAFE CBA) supports and helps the accuracy of the impact assessment. If the uncertainties of the methods are also considered, it is proved for the examples of real case studies that they correlate in their results. On the other hand, the best guess of the EI99 indicators can be used to rank emissions according to their relative damage to human health and the ecosystem, and to locate emission sources. These results help decision-makers to conclude an efficient environmental conscious policy.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5

References

  • Bakker J, van de Meent D (1997): Receptuur voor de berekening van de indicator effecten toxische stoffen (Itox). RIVM report 607504003

  • Basson L, Petri JG (2007) An integrated approach for the consideration of uncertainty in decision making supported by life cycle assessment. Environ Model Softw 22:167–176

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Benko T, Szanyi A, Mizsey P, Fonyo Z (2006) Environmental and economic comparison of waste solvent treatment options. CEJC 4(1):92–110

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Bovea MD, Gallardo A (2006) The influence of impact assessment methods on materials selection for eco-design. Mater Des 27:209–215

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  • CAFE Programme, home page: http://europa.eu.int/comm/environment/air/cafe/

  • Clean air and transport, home page: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/air/index.htm

  • Dreyer LC, Niemann AL, Hauschild MZ (2003) Comparison of three different LCIA methods: EDIP97, CML2001 and eco-indicator 99. Int J LCA 8:191–200

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • EUSES (1996) : EUSES the European Union System for the Evaluation of Substances. National Institute of Public Health and Environment (RIVM), The Netherlands. Available from the European Chemicals Bureau (EC/JRC), Ispra, Italy

  • ExternE, home page: http://www.externe.info/

  • Finkbeiner M, Inaba A, Tan RBH, Christiansen K, Klüppel HJ (2006) The new international standards for life cycle assessment: ISO 14040 and ISO 14044. Int J LCA 11:80–85

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Goedkoop M, Spriensma R (2000) The eco-indicator 99, a damage oriented method for life cycle impact assessment, methodology report, pre consultants, the Netherlands

  • Hofstetter P (1998) Perspectives in life cycle impact assessment; a structured approach to combine models of the technosphere, ecosphere and valuesphere. Kluwers Academic Publishers.

  • Hofstetter TB, Capello C, Hungerbühler K (2003): Environmentally preferable treatment options for industrial waste solvent management - a case study of a toluene containing waste solvent. Trans IChemE 81, Part B, 189–202

  • Holland M, Hunt A, Hurley F, Navrud S, Watkiss P (2005a) Service contract for carrying out cost-benefit analysis of air quality related issues, in particular in the Clean Air for Europe (CAFE) Programme, Vol. 1–3. AEA Technology, homepage: http://www.cafe-cba.org

  • Holland M, Pye S, Watkiss P, Droste-Franke B, Bickel P (2005b) Damages per tonne emission of PM2.5, NH3, SO2, NOx and VOCs from each EU25 Member State (excluding Cyprus) and surrounding seas, Service contract in CAFE Program. AEA Technology, homepage: http://www.cafe-cba.org

  • ISO 14042, (2000) Environmental management—life cycle assessment—life cycle impact assessment, technical standard. International Standards Organization, Geneva, Switzerland

  • Jolliet O, Margin M, Charles R, Humbert S, Payet J, Rebitzer G, Rosenbaum R (2003) IMPACT 2002+: A new life cycle impact assessment methodology. Int J LCA 8:324–330

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Jolliet O, Müller-Wenk R, Bare J, Brent A, Goedkoop M, Heijungs R, Itsubo N, Peña C, Pennington D, Potting J, Rebitzer G, Stewart M, Haes HU, Weidema B (2004) The LCIA midpoint-damage framework of the UNEP/SETAC life cycle initiative. Int J LCA 9:394–404

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Jolliet O, Dubreuil A, Gloria T, Hauschild M (2005) Progresses in life cycle impact assessment within the UNEP/SETAC life cycle initiative. Int J LCA 10:447–448

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Koning A, Guinée J, Pennington D, Sleeswijk A, Hauschild M, Molander S, Nyström B, Pant R, Schowanek D (2002) Methods and typology report part A: inventory and classification of LCA characterisation methods for assessing toxic releases. Contribution to work-package 7 of the OMNIITOX Project as part A of appropriate deliverable D11

  • Kros K, Reinds GJ, Vries W de, Latour JB, Bollen MJS (1995): Modelling of soil acidity and nitrogen availability in natural ecosystems in response to changes in acid deposition and hydrology. Report 95; SC-DLO; Wageningen

  • Krupa S (2003) Atmosphere and agriculture in the new millennium. Environ Pollut 126:293–300

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Lenzen M (2006) Uncertainty in impact and externality assessments implications for decision-making. Int J LCA 11:189–199

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • NILU Polska Ltd., Inst. for Ecology of Industrial Areas (IEIA) (2005): Report on compilation of emission inventories and synthetic emission scenarios for the Krakow integrated project.

  • SimaPro 7, homepage: http://www.pre.nl/simapro/default.htm

  • Sonnemann G, Castells F, Schuhmacher M (2004) Integrated life-cycle and risk assessment for industrial processes. CRC Press LLC, Boca Raton, Florida. ISBN 1566706440

  • van der Werf HMG, Petit J (2002) Evaluation of the environmental impact of agriculture at the farm level: a comparison and analysis of 12 indicator-based methods. Agric Ecosyst Environ 93:131–145

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Watkiss P, Pye S, Holland M (2005) CAFE CBA: baseline analysis 2000 to 2020

  • Wenzel H, Hauschild M, Alting L (1997) Environmental assessment of products - methodology, tools and case studies in product development. Chapman & Hall, London, United Kingdom

    Google Scholar 

  • Wrisberg N, de Haes HAU, Triebswetter U, Eder P, Clift R (2002) Analytical tools for environmental design and management in a systems perspective. Kluwer Academic Publisher, Dordrecht, The Netherlands

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

The financial support granted to this work by the Hungarian Scientific Research Foundation (OTKA) under projects TS 049849 and T 046218.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Tamas Benko.

Additional information

Responsible editor: Andreas Ciroth

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Mizsey, P., Delgado, L. & Benko, T. Comparison of environmental impact and external cost assessment methods. Int J Life Cycle Assess 14, 665–675 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11367-009-0098-0

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11367-009-0098-0

Keywords