Science Inventory

Life Cycle Assessment Framework for Indoor Emissions of Synthetic Nanoparticles


Walser, T., D. Meyer, W. Fransman, H. Buist, E. Kuijpers, AND D. Brouwer. Life Cycle Assessment Framework for Indoor Emissions of Synthetic Nanoparticles. Journal of Nanoparticle Research. Springer SBM, New York, NY, 17(6):245, (2015).


The purpose of this work is to improve the modeling of exposure to nanoparticles in Life Cycle Assessment.


Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a well-established method to evaluate impacts of chemicals on the environment and human health along the lifespan of products. However, the increasingly produced and applied nanomaterials (defined as one dimension <100 nm) show particular characteristics which are different from conventional chemicals or larger particles. As a consequence, LCA does not provide sufficient guidance on how to deal with synthetic nanomaterials, neither in the exposure, nor in the effect assessment. This is particularly true for the workplace, where significant exposure can be expected via the lung, the route of major concern. Therefore, we developed a concise method which allows the inclusion of indoor nanoparticle exposure into LCA. New nanospecific properties are included along the LCA stages with a particular focus on the workplace environment. We built upon existing LCA methods and nanoparticle fate and exposure studies. The impact assessment requires new approaches for nanoparticles, such as guidance on relevant endpoints, nanospecific properties that are relevant for the toxicity, and guidance on the chemical identity of nanomaterials, i.e., categorization and distinction of different forms of nanomaterials. We present a framework which goes beyond traditional approaches of LCA and includes nanospecific fate parameters in the indoor exposure assessment as well as guidance on the development of effect and characterization factors for inhaled nanoparticles. Specifically, the indoor one-box model is amended with new particle-specific parameters developed in the exposure literature. A concentration conversion and parameter estimation tool are presented. Finally, the modification of the traditional intake fraction to capture size-specific deposition and retention rate are discussed along with a strategy for a more robust effect assessment. The paper is a further step toward a fair comparison between conventional and nano-enabled products by integrating occupational exposure to synthetic nanomaterials into LCA.

Record Details:

Product Published Date: 06/03/2015
Record Last Revised: 01/27/2016
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 310050