Assessing burden of disease as Disability Adjusted Life Years in Life Cycle Assessment
Journal article, 2015
Disability adjusted life years (DALYs) have been used to quantify endpoint indicators of the human burden of
disease in life cycle assessment (LCA). The purpose of this paper was to examine the current use of DALYs in LCA, and also to consider whether DALYs as used in LCA have the potential to be compatible with DALYs as used in quantitative risk assessment (QRA) to facilitate direct comparison of the results of the two approaches.
A literature review of current usage of DALYs in LCA was undertaken. Two prominent methods were identified: ReCiPe 2008 and LIME2. The methods and assumptions used in their calculations were then critically reviewed. The assumptions used for the derivation of characterization factors in DALYs were found to be considerably different between LCA methods. In many cases, transparency of these calculations and assumptions is lacking. Furthermore, global average DALY values are often used in these calculations, but may not be applicable for impact categories where the local factors play a significant role.
The concept of DALYs seems beneficial since it enables direct comparison and aggregation of different health impacts. However, given the different assumptions used in each LCA method, it is important that LCA practitioners are aware of the differences and select the appropriate method for the focus of their study.When applying DALYs as a common metric between LCA and QRA, understanding the background information on howDALYswere derived is crucial to ensure the consistency of DALYs used in LCA and QRA for resulting DALYs to be comparable and to minimize any double counting of effects.
Human health impacts