Indoor exposure to toluene from printed mattermatters: complementary views from life cycle assessment and risk assessment

Walser, T., Juraske, R., Demou, E. and Hellweg, S. (2014) Indoor exposure to toluene from printed mattermatters: complementary views from life cycle assessment and risk assessment. Environmental Science and Technology, 48(1), pp. 689-697. (doi: 10.1021/es403804z)

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Abstract

A pronounced presence of toluene from rotogravure printed matter has been frequently observed indoors. However, its consequences to human health in the life cycle of magazines are poorly known. Therefore, we quantified human-health risks in indoor environments with Risk Assessment (RA) and impacts relative to the total impact of toxic releases occurring in the life cycle of a magazine with Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). We used a one-box indoor model to estimate toluene concentrations in printing facilities, newsstands, and residences in a best, average, and worst-case scenario. The modeled concentrations are in the range of the values measured in on-site campaigns. Toluene concentrations can be close or even surpass the occupational legal thresholds in printing facilities in realistic worst-case scenarios. The concentrations in homes can surpass the US EPA reference dose (69 μg/kg/day) in worst-case scenarios, but are still at least 1 order of magnitude lower than in press rooms or newsstands. However, toluene inhaled at home becomes the dominant contribution to the total potential human toxicity impacts of toluene from printed matter when assessed with LCA, using the USEtox method complemented with indoor characterization factors for toluene. The significant contribution (44%) of toluene exposure in production, retail, and use in households, to the total life cycle impact of a magazine in the category of human toxicity, demonstrates that the indoor compartment requires particular attention in LCA. While RA works with threshold levels, LCA assumes that every toxic emission causes an incremental change to the total impact. Here, the combination of the two paradigms provides valuable information on the life cycle stages of printed matter.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Demou, Dr Evangelia
Authors: Walser, T., Juraske, R., Demou, E., and Hellweg, S.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > Public Health
Journal Name:Environmental Science and Technology
Journal Abbr.:EST
Publisher:American Chemical Society
ISSN:0013-936X
ISSN (Online):1520-5851

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