Risk Analysis

Assessing Human Health Response in Life Cycle Assessment Using ED 10 s and DALYs: Part 1—Cancer Effects

Journal Article

  • Author(s): Pierre Crettaz, David Pennington, Lorenz Rhomberg, Kevin Brand, Olivier Jolliet
  • Article first published online: 02 Sep 2008
  • DOI: 10.1111/1539-6924.00262
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Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a framework for comparing products according to their total estimated environmental impact, summed over all chemical emissions and activities associated with a product at all stages in its life cycle (from raw material acquisition, manufacturing, use, to final disposal). For each chemical involved, the exposure associated with the mass released into the environment, integrated over time and space, is multiplied by a toxicological measure to estimate the likelihood of effects and their potential consequences. In this article, we explore the use of quantitative methods drawn from conventional single‐chemical regulatory risk assessments to create a procedure for the estimation of the cancer effect measure in the impact phase of LCA. The approach is based on the maximum likelihood estimate of the effect dose inducing a 10% response over background, ED10, and default linear low‐dose extrapolation using the slope βED10 (0.1/ED10). The calculated effects may correspond to residual risks below current regulatory compliance requirements that occur over multiple generations and at multiple locations; but at the very least they represent a “using up” of some portion of the human population's ability to accommodate emissions. Preliminary comparisons are performed with existing measures, such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (U.S. EPA's) slope factor measure q1*. By analyzing bioassay data for 44 chemicals drawn from the EPA's Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) database, we explore estimating ED10 from more readily available information such as the median tumor dose rate TD50 and the median single lethal dose LD50. Based on the TD50, we then estimate the ED10 for more than 600 chemicals. Differences in potential consequences, or severity, are addressed by combining βED10 with the measure disability adjusted life years per affected person, DALYp. Most of the variation among chemicals for cancer effects is found to be due to differences in the slope factors (βED10) ranging from 10−4 up to 104 (risk of cancer/mg/kg‐day).

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