Normalization references for USEtoxTM-based toxic impact categories: North American and European economic systems

Alexis Laurent, Anne Lautier, Ralph K. Rosenbaum, Stig Irving Olsen, Michael Zwicky Hauschild

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    Abstract

    As an optional step of the life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) phase in the ISO standards, normalization aims to express the magnitude of the impacts by comparing the characterized results against a common reference situation - the normalization references. In this study, we used inventories of two economic regions, North America and Europe, to calculate normalization references for the three currently-modelled USEtoxTM-based impact categories, i.e. freshwater ecotoxicity, human toxicity, divided into cancer effects and non-cancer effects. Base years for the references are 2004 for Europe and 2006 for North America. The normalization references have been calculated using recommended factors as well as with interim factors, as needed. It is found that, in spite of different inventory assumptions, the normalization references fall within the same order of magnitude for both North America and Europe. By analysing the most contributing substances, metals turn out to dominate the impacts in both regions. This may be explained by the interim status of the characterization factors (CFs) for metals, which might be overestimated in the current model. Part of the explanation may also lie in the incomplete coverage of organics in both the inventory and the CF databases. With respect to the intended global character of the USEtoxTM model, different approaches to determine normalization references of other economic systems (e.g. Asia or world) are discussed in relation to these findings. Overall, we thus recommend the use of the provided set of normalization references for USEtoxTM, but we also advocate 1) to perform an update as soon as a more comprehensive inventory can be obtained and as soon as characterization factors for metals are revised; 2) to consider extension to other economic systems in order to allow normalization in USEtoxTM to be used on a global scale.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationSETAC Europe 21st Annual Meeting Abstract Book
    Number of pages131
    Publication date2011
    Publication statusPublished - 2011
    EventSETAC Europe 21st Annual Meeting: Ecosystem Protection in a Sustainable World: A Challenge for Science and Regulation - Milano Convention Centre, Milano, Italy
    Duration: 15 May 201119 May 2011
    Conference number: 21
    http://milano.setac.eu/home/?contentid=291&pr_id=290

    Conference

    ConferenceSETAC Europe 21st Annual Meeting
    Number21
    LocationMilano Convention Centre
    Country/TerritoryItaly
    CityMilano
    Period15/05/201119/05/2011
    Internet address

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