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A diagram of the tools included in Mistra SafeChem's toolbox

Toolbox: Life cycle based assessments

A life cycle based assessment toolbox is being developed to support the assessment of sustainability of chemicals. It is based on existing models already used in life cycle assessment (LCA) to assess the toxicity and ecotoxicity of chemicals, while taking into account advances in digitalization methods.

Substituting hazardous chemicals in industrial processes and consumer products requires not only the selection of less hazardous alternatives, but also ensuring that the substitution does not lead to unacceptable trade-offs elsewhere in the chemical or product life cycle. Similarly, applying a systems perspective to process design and optimization is essential to avoid shifting the burden from one potential health and environmental impact to another.

Robust methods and tools are needed to address these challenges. Life cycle based tools need to take into account the hazardous properties of chemicals and materials as well as the risks of exposure throughout the life cycle.

The sustainability part of the toolbox is divided into three main parts: Life cycle assessment, Chemical footprint assessment and Life cycle based alternatives assessment. Click the plus signs below to unfold tool descriptions and learn more about the tools included in each part.

Life cycle assessment (LCA) is used to understand hot spot patterns for further optimization and to compare new solutions with conventional ones (see e.g. ISO standards 140 40 and 140 44). The LCAs can be broad in scope and include many impact categories.

Life cycle assessment represents an important foundation of the sustainability part of the Mistra SafeChem toolbox. It is a well-established tool and not developed under the programme. Instead LCA has been applied in several case studies during phase I of the programme to illustrate the use of the life cycle based tools. Please visit the page Case studies to learn more.

The term "chemical footprint" (see definition above) is used here for describing the assessment of human toxicity and ecotoxicity in LCA. The "footprint" is generated for a function, which could be generated by a product or service. Relevant areas of protection are human health and ecosystem quality.
This is analogous to the terms environmental footprint, carbon footprint or water footprint
(see e.g. Towards a common conceptual framework for chemical footprint bridging Risk Assessment and Life Cycle Assessment: Short review and way forward External link, opens in new window.).
In Mistra SafeChem we mainly use USEtox and ProScale derived indicators for the chemical footprint.

USEtox

USEtox is used for life cycle impact assessment (LCIA). It is a scientific consensus model, endorsed by UNEP's Life Cycle Initiative, for characterizing human and ecotoxicological impacts of chemical emissions and chemicals in products. USEtox calculates characterization factors including fate, exposure, and effect factors. USEtox 3 includes near-field and far-field environments. USEtox is being further developed in several projects, including Mistra SafeChem.
Contact: Peter Fantke
Articles:
Exposure and toxicity characterization of chemical emissions and chemicals in products: global recommendations and implementation in USEtox External link, opens in new window.
Ecotoxicity characterization of chemicals: Global recommendations and implementation in USEtox External link, opens in new window.
Background information: www.usetox.org External link, opens in new window.
Status: Ready for use

ProScale

A life cycle oriented method based on REACH data (specifically a combination of ECETOC tiered risk assessment for exposure, and CLP/GHS hazard classification for hazard) to assess the toxicological potential of product systems. ProScale for human health toxicity potential (ProScale-H) focuses on toxicity via direct exposure and is operational. The refinement of ProScale-H and the development of Proscale-E for ecotoxicological potential are ongoing in several projects, including Mistra SafeChem.
Contact: Tomas Rydberg, Peter Saling
Article: Global Human Toxicity Potential assessed with the ProScale method for use in Normalisation in LCA External link, opens in new window.
Report: A ProScale case study on indoor wall paint Pdf, 1 MB, opens in new window.
Background information:
ProScale – A life cycle oriented method to assess toxicological potentials of product systems (2017) External link, opens in new window.
www.proscale.org External link, opens in new window.
Status: Ready for use

Machine learning based models for substance property prediction

Machine learning model to predict non-cancer human health effect factors for life cycle impact assessment (LCIA). Output compatible with USEtox. Additional models for yet other endpoints may be added.
Contact: Peter Fantke, Kerstin von Borries
Article: Manuscript in progress
Status:
Work in progress

Life cycle inventory process modelling

For achieving data on relevant inputs and outputs on industrial scale level processes and to explore possibilities to use process simulations to generate LCA inventory data.
Contact: Tomas Rydberg, Håkan Fridén
Article: Manuscript in progress
Status:
Work in progress

Life cycle based alternatives assessment for chemical substitution

Life cycle based alternatives assessment (LCAA) framework to consistently integrate quantitative exposure and life cycle impact performance into the substitution process. Tier-based assessment process based on USEtox 3.
Contact: Peter Fantke
Article: Life cycle based alternatives assessment (LCAA) for chemical substitution External link, opens in new window.
Status: Ready for use