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Regional LCA in a global perspective. A basis for spatially differentiated environmental life cycle assessment



LCA toxicity assessment and HERA are distinct tools with different goals and outputs, but with an overlap with respect to environmental fate and human intake calculation. Although they cannot be merged, it is proposed to combine them in a common software model, which would offer harmonised results with respect to both types of outputs. Existing multimedia fate and exposure models form a useful basis, but to be applicable in LCA, they should combine global coverage with spatial differentiation, and they should allow for the assessment of metal emissions. The GLOBOX model offers this combination of features. At the level of separate countries and seas, spatial differentiation of environmental and human exposure characteristics turns out to show large differences between regions with respect to the toxic impacts, calculated to result from a certain emission of the test substance nitrobenzene. Finally, the GLOBOX model demonstrates that it is possible not only in HERA, but also in LCIA, to assess actual environmental impacts, along with the potential impacts on which LCA traditionally focuses.



The International Journal of Life Cycle AssessmentSpringer Journals

Published: Feb 1, 2011

DOI: 10.1007/s11367-010-0247-5

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