A method for human health impact assessment in social LCA: lessons from three case studies
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2018
Purpose Improving human health is a long-lasting endeavour
of mankind. In the field of social life cycle assessment
(SLCA), the importance of human health is often highlighted,
and further development of impact assessment methods has
been recommended. The purpose of this article is to present a
method for assessing human health impacts within SLCA.
Methods By using a systematic combining approach, knowledge
and experience about assessing human health impacts
were obtained from three previously conducted case studies.
The first case study was about an airbag system, the second
about a catalytic converter and the third about gold jewellery.
The disability-adjusted life years (DALY) indicator was used
for impact assessment in all three case studies.
Results and discussion Both positive and negative human
health impacts associated with the products were identified
and assessed in the three case studies. For the airbag system,
avoided health impacts in the use phase outweighed health
impacts during production. For the catalytic converter, whether
health impacts avoided exceeded health impacts caused or
not depended on which time perspective regarding impacts
was employed. Gold jewellery does not help avoiding any
health impacts but caused considerable health impacts when
produced at a certain location. Based on experience from these
case studies, a generic human health impact assessment method
was developed, and a life cycle human health typology for
products was developed based on the method. The method
provides a basis for analysis and interpretation of health impacts
along product life cycles, and it is therefore important to
report both positive and negative health impacts separately for
Conclusions The developed human health impact assessment
method involves the assessment and comparison of both positive
and negative human health impacts along product life
cycles. In addition to the products assessed in the three case
studies, we suggest additional products that could be particularly
interesting to assess with the developed method, including
medicines, seat belts, other conflict minerals, alcoholic
beverages and products with a high chemical impact.
social life cycle assessment (SLCA)