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Critical Review of Eutrophication Models for Life Cycle Assessment
Morelli, B., T. Hawkins, B. Niblick, A. Henderson, H. Golden, J. Compton, E. Cooter, AND J. Bare. Critical Review of Eutrophication Models for Life Cycle Assessment. ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY. American Chemical Society, Washington, DC, 52:9562-9578, (2018).
Excess nitrogen from soil runoff and the atmosphere can lead to freshwater quality challenges, such as harmful algal blooms and a depletion of oxygen in bodies of water, known as hypoxia. The associated work reviews and synthesizes how environmental models and methods can best calculate and represent where nitrogen ends up in the environment (i.e. fate), what pathways it follows (i.e. transport), and what impacts the excessive release of nutrients can have on the environment. This synthesized knowledge can be used to create an improved eutrophication model in life cycle assessment to better protect ecosystems and public health. The results of this work are summarized in a peer-reviewed journal article, the readers of which consist of academic and government researchers, members of industry, and other practitioners of environmental life-cycle modeling.
This paper evaluates the current state of life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) methods used to estimate potential eutrophication impacts in freshwater and marine ecosystems and presents a critical review of the underlying surface water quality, watershed, marine, and air fate and transport (F&T) models. Using a criteria rubric, we assess the potential of each method and model to contribute to further refinements of life cycle assessment (LCA) eutrophication mechanisms and nutrient transformation processes as well as model structure, availability, geographic scope, and spatial and temporal resolution. We describe recent advances in LCIA modeling and provide guidance on the best available sources of fate and exposure factors, with a focus on midpoint indicators. The critical review identifies gaps in LCIA characterization modeling regarding the availability and spatial resolution of fate factors in the soil compartment and identifies strategies to characterize emissions from soil. Additional opportunities are identified to leverage detailed F&T models that strengthen existing approaches to LCIA or that have the potential to link LCIA modeling more closely with the spatial and temporal realities of the effects of eutrophication.
Record Details:Record Type: DOCUMENT (JOURNAL/PEER REVIEWED JOURNAL)
Organization:U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
NATIONAL RISK MANAGEMENT RESEARCH LABORATORY
LAND AND MATERIALS MANAGEMENT DIVISION
LIFE CYCLE AND DECISION SUPPORT BRANCH