Similarities, Differences and Synergisms Between HERA and LCA—An Analysis at Three Levels
Linkages between Human and Environmental Risk Assessment (HERA) and Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA) can be analyzed at three levels: the basic equations to describe environmental behavior and dose-response relationships of chemicals; the overall model structure of these tools; and the applications of the tools. At level 1 few differences exist: both tools use essentially the same fate and effect models, including their coefficients and data. At level 2 distinctive differences emerge: regional or life-cycle perspective, emission pulses or fluxes, scope of chemicals and types of impacts, use of characterization factors, spatial and temporal detail, aggregation of effects, and the functional unit as basis of the assessment. Although the two tools typically differ in all these aspects, only the functional unit issue renders the tools fundamentally different, expressing itself also in some main characteristics of the modeling structure. This impedes full integration, which is underpinned in mathematical terms. At level 3 the aims of the tools are complementary: quantified risk estimates of chemicals for HERA versus quantified product assessment for LCA. Here, beneficial synergism is possible between the two tools, as illustrated by some cases. These also illustrate that where full integration is suggested, in practice this is not achieved, thus in fact supporting the conclusions.
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