Development of Environmental Indices for Green Chemical Production and Use

EPA Grant Number: R825370C078
Subproject: this is subproject number 078 , established and managed by the Center Director under grant R825370
(EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).

Center: EERC - National Center for Clean Industrial and Treatment Technologies (CenCITT)
Center Director: Crittenden, John C.
Title: Development of Environmental Indices for Green Chemical Production and Use
Investigators: Crittenden, John C. , Hand, David W. , Hokanson, David R. , Mihelcic, James R.
Institution: Michigan Technological University
EPA Project Officer: Klieforth, Barbara I
Project Period: January 1, 1997 through January 1, 1999
RFA: Exploratory Environmental Research Centers (1992) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Center for Clean Industrial and Treatment Technologies (CenCITT) , Targeted Research


This project intends to develop practical methods for predicting the potential risk from chemical manufacturing and use. The initial phase of this effort will provide a comparison of several existing risk assessment methods for different application scenarios: (1) Pollution Prevention (P2) Assessment Framework stage I risk analysis method, (2) Toxicity-based method, (3) Toxicity/Persistence Index, (4) Partitioning Persistence/Toxicity Index, and (5) Concentration/Toxicity method. This comparison will illustrate the influence of simplifications of transport and exposure estimation on risk prediction. Ultimately, a model that considers emission rates, toxicity, and more realistic attenuation mechanisms of chemicals will be developed to evaluate the environmental performance of process alternatives.


The approach in this project is to compare several existing risk assessment methods and to develop a software design tool that requires minimal user input. The methods will be compared in the manufacture and use of chemicals. The Chemical Industry Planning System (CIPS) will be used to identify a number of production facility options. CIPS is a database developed by CenCITT investigators to link hydrocarbon feedstock to end products through industrially proven chemical technologies. The software package will consist of a multimedia environmental fate model and a risk index calculator. A sensitivity analysis for the fate model will be conducted to determine the dominant attenuation mechanisms and the important parameters to simplify the fate equations and direct future work in parameter estimation.

The risk-related information obtained by the EPA's Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT) Pollution Prevention (P2) Assessment Framework is used to conduct stage I risk analysis for chemicals of concern. The P2 Framework also provides risk related information for other methods. Toxicity-based method, Toxicity/Persistence method, Partitioning Persistence/Toxicity Index (PPTI) and the Concentration/Toxicity method have been compared for solvent selection, reaction pathway selection, and risk evaluation among facilities and industries. This comparison demonstrates that ignoring or simplifying transport and exposure estimation will result in decreasing reliability of risk assessment.

The multimedia environmental fate model to be developed consists of main compartments and considers important attenuation mechanisms. The magnitude of the risks is expressed as the equal risk release of a reference chemical for different environmental impact categories. Under standard exposure scenario, the ratio of exposure level is equal to the ratio of the ambient concentration of the chemical in question to the concentration of the reference chemical. The risk index calculator portion of the model calculates the dimensionless risk indices based on a combination of the adverse effects and the concentration.

Several existing risk assessment methods have been compared for example cases: green solvent selection, green reaction pathway decision-making, and risk evaluation for industries (or facilities, states). The different results obtained using different methods show that ignoring or simplifying exposure will result in decreasing reliability of risk assessment. It is concluded that toxicity is a key component to predict risk for chemicals with similar physical chemical properties and the fate of chemicals is very important in developing process risk potentials, especially when there is not a large difference in toxicity among chemicals used in different reaction pathways. It was found that the environmental impact assessment based only on total release may be misleading for industry (or facility, state) risk analysis.

The multimedia environmental fate model that has been developed consists of 6 compartments: air (troposphere and stratosphere subcompartment), surface water, sediment, soil (surface soil and vadose subcompartment), ground water, and vegetation (foliage and root subcompartment). The attenuation mechanisms considered in the fate model include advection, diffusive and non-diffusive mass transfer, and reaction. The model provides steady-state and dynamic simulation capabilities. In addition, the default values of landscape properties for one location are available for use in the model input. The model has been verified by comparing the steady-state concentrations with the reported data and the results from Mackay Level III fate model under the same input scenario (no mass transfer into the additional compartment - ground water and vegetation in the model).

Expected Results:

Chemical production, use and disposal cause adverse impacts on the environment. Consequently, much research has been conducted to develop methods for estimating the risk of chemicals and to screen them based on environmental impact. Risk assessment may be subdivided into two categories: environmental fate and exposure assessment, and adverse effect assessment. It is difficult to estimate the exposure level using complex fate and exposure models because many input parameters are not known. Due to the lack of reliable data and estimation techniques for determining input parameters, past research efforts in the field of risk assessment incorporate simplifying assumptions into the fate and exposure assessment that can result in poor decisions, even wrong decisions.

This project is expected to seek a middle ground to evaluate risks for chemical production and use. It will provide industry with environmental impact information. This knowledge will be applied in the conceptual design phase such that not only economic and safety factors are considered, but also environmental factors. This project will help the government to evaluate the environmental performance of high-production-volume (HPV) chemicals and their manufacturing pathways not only based on the total release, but also their adverse effects.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this subproject: View all 3 publications for this subprojectView all 157 publications for this center

Supplemental Keywords:

technology for sustainable environment, environmental chemistry, clean technology, environmental engineering, pollution prevention, cleaner production, computing technology, industrial process analysis, chemical production, environmental risk, corporate decision-making., RFA, Scientific Discipline, INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Sustainable Industry/Business, cleaner production/pollution prevention, Sustainable Environment, Technology for Sustainable Environment, computing technology, Economics and Business, pollution prevention, Environmental Engineering, in-process changes, in-process waste minimization, industrial design for environment, industrial process design, cleaner production, environmentally conscious manufacturing, green design, pollution prevention design tool, pollution prevention assessment, clean technology, Design Option Ranking Tool (DORT), physico-chemical properties, computer science, Clean Process Advisory System (CPAS), CPAS, industrial process, process modification, chemical manufacturing, industry pollution prevention research, chemical properties tool, chemical processing, information technology, innovative technology, process analysis, industrial innovations, outreach and education, environmental fate and risk assessment tool (EFRAT), green chemistry, green technology

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1997
  • Final

  • Main Center Abstract and Reports:

    R825370    EERC - National Center for Clean Industrial and Treatment Technologies (CenCITT)

    Subprojects under this Center: (EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).
    R825370C032 Means for Producing an Entirely New Generation of Lignin-Based Plastics
    R825370C042 Environmentally Conscious Design for Construction
    R825370C046 Clean Process Advisory System (CPAS) Core Activities
    R825370C048 Investigation of the Partial Oxidation of Methane to Methanol in a Simulated Countercurrent Moving Bed Reactor
    R825370C054 Predictive Tool for Ultrafiltration Performance
    R825370C055 Heuristic Reactor Design for Clean Synthesis and Processing - Separative Reactors
    R825370C056 Characterization of Selective Solid Acid Catalysts Towards the Rational Design of Catalytic Reactions
    R825370C057 Environmentally Conscious Manufacturing: Prediction of Processing Waste Streams for Discrete Products
    R825370C064 The Physical Properties Management System (PPMS™): A P2 Engineering Aid to Support Process Design and Analysis
    R825370C065 Development and Testing of Pollution Prevention Design Aids for Process Analysis and Decision Making
    R825370C066 Design Tools for Chemical Process Safety: Accident Probability
    R825370C067 Environmentally Conscious Manufacturing: Design for Disassembly (DFD) in De-Manufacturing of Products
    R825370C068 An Economic Comparison of Wet and Dry Machining
    R825370C069 In-Line Copper Recovery Technology
    R825370C070 Selective Catalytic Hydrogenation of Lactic Acid
    R825370C071 Biosynthesis of Polyhydroxyalkanoate Polymers from Industrial Wastewater
    R825370C072 Tin Zeolites for Partial Oxidation Catalysis
    R825370C073 Development of a High Performance Photocatalytic Reactor System for the Production of Methanol from Methane in the Gas Phase
    R825370C074 Recovery of Waste Polymer Generated by Lost Foam Technology in the Metal Casting Industry
    R825370C075 Industrial Implementation of the P2 Framework
    R825370C076 Establishing Automated Linkages Between Existing P2-Related Software Design Tools
    R825370C077 Integrated Applications of the Clean Process Advisory System to P2-Conscious Process Analysis and Improvement
    R825370C078 Development of Environmental Indices for Green Chemical Production and Use