Title: Improving substance information in USEtox®, Part 1: Discussion on data and approaches for estimating freshwater ecotoxicity effect factors
Citation: ENVIRONMENTAL TOXICOLOGY AND CHEMISTRY vol. 36 no. 12 p. 3450-3462
Publication Year: 2017
JRC N°: JRC104190
ISSN: 0730-7268 (online)
URI: https://setac.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/etc.3889
DOI: 10.1002/etc.3889
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: The scientific consensus model USEtox® is recommended by the European Commission as the reference model to characterize life cycle chemical emissions in terms of their human toxicity and freshwater aquatic ecotoxicity impacts in the context of the International Reference Life Cycle Data System (ILCD) Handbook and the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) pilot phase. Consequently, this model has been systematically used within the PEF pilot phase by 25 EU industry sectors, which manufacture a wide variety of consumer products. This testing phase has raised some questions regarding the derivation of and data used for the chemical-specific freshwater ecotoxicity effect factor in USEtox®. For freshwater aquatic ecotoxicity impacts, USEtox® bases the effect factor on the chronic hazard concentration (HC50) value for a chemical calculated as the arithmetic mean of all logarithmized geometric means of species-specific chronic lethal (or effect) concentrations (L(E)C50). We investigated the dependency of the USEtox® effect factor on the selection of ecotoxicological data source and toxicological endpoints, and we found that both influence the ecotoxicity ranking of chemicals and may hence influence the conclusions of a life cycle assessment (LCA) study. We furthermore compared the HC50 measure to other types of ecotoxicity effect indicators like the HC5 and the predicted no effect concentration (PNEC), frequently used in regulatory risk assessment, and demonstrated how they may also influence the ecotoxicity ranking of chemicals. We acknowledge that these indicators represent different aspects of a chemical’s ecotoxicity potential and discuss their pros and cons for a comparative chemical assessment as performed in in LCA and in particular in the PEF context.
JRC Directorate:Sustainable Resources

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