CIRP Encyclopedia of Production Engineering

2014 Edition
| Editors: The International Academy for Production Engineering, Luc Laperrière, Gunther Reinhart

Environmental Impact

Reference work entry


 Environmental issue

Environmental effect, environmental damage, and environmental consequence are sometimes used as synonyms of environmental impact although they are located later in the causality chain that links an activity to its consequences. The activity (e.g., burning of fossil fuels) may cause an impact (e.g., increase of the concentration of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in the atmosphere) that leads to an effect (increased radiative forcing of the atmosphere) that as a consequence has an increased global average temperature in the atmosphere which as a consequence has sea-level rise leading to damage to coastal land ecosystems (Hauschild and Wenzel 1998). Some confusion about the terms stems from the fact that the effect of one impact becomes in itself an impact with other effects and so forth along the cause-effect chain (see example of cause-effect chain in Fig. 1).
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  1. EC (2011) General guide for life cycle assessment: detailed guidance. ILCD handbook – international reference life cycle data system, European Union EUR 24708 EN. Available at Accessed 20 August 2013
  2. EC- JRC (2010) Framework and requirements for LCIA models and indicators. ILCD handbook – international reference life cycle data system, European Union EUR24586EN. Available at
  3. Hauschild MZ, Wenzel H (1998) Environmental assessment of products, vol 2, Scientific background. Kluwer Academic Publishers, HinghamGoogle Scholar
  4. ISO (2006) ISO 14044:2006 environmental management: life cycle assessment: requirements and guidelines. International Standards Organization. Geneva, SwitzerlandGoogle Scholar

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© CIRP 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Management EngineeringTechnical University of DenmarkLyngbyDenmark