Influence of metal speciation on soil ecotoxicity impacts in life cycle assessment

Mateusz Sydow, Łukasz Chrzanowski, Michael Zwicky Hauschild, Mikołaj Owsianiak

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


It is unknown whether metallic elements remain important contributors to terrestrial ecotoxicity impact scores in life cycle assessment (LCA) when solid- and liquid-phase speciation are considered in environmental fate, exposure and effects. Here, a new speciation-based method for calculating comparative toxicity potentials (CTP) of 23 metallic elements in soils was compared with two other widely used methods which do not consider speciation (i.e., IMPACT, 2002+ and ReCiPe 2008) for nearly 13,000 life cycles of unit processes taken from different sectors. Differences in impact scores between method were driven either by differences in characterization models (ReCiPe 2008) or both by differences in characterization models and substance coverage (IMPACT, 2002+). Strong correlations (r > 0.98) and seemingly constant shifts in impact scores were found for those processes where one or few substances (usually metals) contributed most to total impact and there were large differences in CTPs between methods for these substances. Weaker correlations but often better agreement in impact scores were found for those processes where organic substances were dominant contributors to total impact. Our results suggest that metals are expected to remain important contributors to soil ecotoxicity impacts in LCA when speciation is considered.
Original languageEnglish
Article number110611
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Cite this