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Keywords:

  • acidification factors;
  • actual impact;
  • critical load;
  • life-cycle impact assessment;
  • RAINS;
  • site-dependent impact assessment

Summary

The lack of spatial differentiation in current life-cycle impact assessment (LCIA) affects the relevance of the assessed impact. This article first describes a framework for constructing factors relating the region of emission to the acidifying impact on its deposition areas. Next, these factors are established for 44 European regions with the help of the RAINS model, an integrated assessment model that combines information on regional emission levels with information on long-range atmospheric transport to estimate patterns of deposition and concentration for comparison with critical loads and thresholds for acidification, eutrophication via air; and tropospheric ozone formation. The application of the acidification factors in LCIA is very straightforward. The only additional data required, the geographical site of the emission, is generally provided by current life-cycle inventory analysis. The acidification factors add resolving power of a factor of 1,000 difference between the highest and lowest ratings, while the combined uncertainties in the RAINS model are canceled out to a large extent in the acidification factors as a result of the large number of ecosystems they cover The framework presented is also suitable for establishing similar factors for eutrophication and tropospheric ozone formation for regions outside Europe as well.