Exploring REACH as a potential data source for characterizing ecotoxicity in life cycle assessment

Nienke Müller, Dick de Zwart, Michael Zwicky Hauschild, Gaël Kijko, Peter Fantke

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    Toxicity models in life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) currently only characterize a small fraction of marketed substances, mostly because of limitations in the underlying ecotoxicity data. One approach to improve the current data situation in LCIA is to identify new data sources, such as the European Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) database. The present study explored REACH as a potential data source for LCIA based on matching reported ecotoxicity data for substances that are currently also included in the United Nations Environment Programme/Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (UNEP/SETAC) scientific consensus model USEtox for characterizing toxicity impacts. Data are evaluated with respect to number of data points, reported reliability, and test duration, and are compared with data listed in USEtox at the level of hazardous concentration for 50% of the covered species per substance. The results emphasize differences between data available via REACH and in USEtox. The comparison of ecotoxicity data from REACH and USEtox shows potential for using REACH ecotoxicity data in LCIA toxicity characterization, but also highlights issues related to compliance of submitted data with REACH requirements as well as different assumptions underlying regulatory risk assessment under REACH versus data needed for LCIA. Thus, further research is required to address data quality, pre-processing, and applicability, before considering data submitted under REACH as a data source for use in LCIA, and also to explore additionally available data sources, published studies, and reports.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalEnvironmental Toxicology and Chemistry
    Issue number2
    Pages (from-to)492–500
    Number of pages9
    Publication statusPublished - 2017


    • Environmental Chemistry
    • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
    • 50% hazardous concentration
    • Ecotoxicity data
    • Life cycle impact assessment
    • Median effective concentration
    • USEtox


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