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The potential role of Life Cycle Assessment in regulation of chemicals in the European Union

Authors
  • Christensen, Frans Møller
  • Olsen, Stig Irving
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2003
Source
Online Research Database In Technology
Keywords
License
Unknown
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Abstract

The regulation of chemicals in EU is undergoing substantial changes these years with implementation of the “REACH” system. Simultaneously, the concepts of LCA and Integrated Product Policy (IPP) are becoming increasingly integrated in European standardisation and regulatory activities. As a logical consequence, the European Chemicals Bureau (ECB) has enrolled in the OMNIITOX project with the clear aim of investigating possible applications of LCA in future EU regulation of chemicals. Implementation of REACH will expand and change the activities and services currently delivered by ECB as the focal point for data and assessment procedures on dangerous chemicals. One change is the inclusion of socio-economic assessments as decision support to regulation of substances, which are undesirable from a risk assessment point of view. Comparative LCA’s have similarities with and may serve as good input to socio-economic analyses, because LCA’s attempt to: 1. cover all emissions (including intermediates), 2. assess all potential environmental impacts, 3. assess the average situation (including uncertainty analyses). Contrary, risk assessments are based on substance approaches and conservative assumptions. Other potential uses of LCA could be in overall priority setting (including non-chemical products) of environmental product policy and in standardisation work related to products/processes releasing chemicals to the environment. A number of methodological interactions between regulatory risk assessment and LCA as well as perspectives for integration of information systems dealing with substance and product related information will also be presented along with findings from a case study, which has shown that the well-known functional unit approach in LCA may be just as relevant for comparative risk assessments.

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