- Engineering & Materials
- Environmental engineering
- Incorporating exposure science into life-cycle assessment
Incorporating exposure science into life-cycle assessment
Bare, Jane C. National Risk Management Research Laboratory, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Cincinnati, Ohio.
Vallero, Daniel A. National Exposure Research Laboratory, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.
Last reviewed:November 2021
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- Incorporating exposure science into life-cycle assessment, published 2014:Download PDF Get Adobe Acrobat Reader
- Adding exposure information to inventories
- More comprehensive exposure assessment within LCA
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
A means for estimating the potential for environmental damage that may be caused by a product or process, ideally before the product or process begins. Life-cycle assessment (LCA) includes all of the steps from extracting natural resources through manufacturing through product use, disposal, and recycling. LCA is increasingly used in environmental and sustainability decision making. In the past, some LCAs have employed human and ecological toxicity as a surrogate for risk; however, risk is a function of both toxicity and exposure to the toxic agent. For more complete assessments, LCAs estimate the potential for environmental damage by incorporating environmental fate, transport, and an agent's potential contact with humans and other species with toxicity (see illustration). LCA calculations of human toxicity and ecotoxicity can be significant, especially considering all of the substances and exposure pathways which can be involved at each time and place where the toxic substance is released. See also: Environmental toxicology; Toxicology
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