The Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology is widely applied in several industrial sectors to evaluate the environmental performance of processes, products and services. Recently, several reports and studies have emphasized the importance of LCA in the field of engineered nanomaterials. However, to date only a few LCA studies on nanotechnology have been carried out, and fewer still have assessed aspects relating to ecotoxicity. This is mainly due to the lack of knowledge in relation on human and environmental exposure and effect of engineered nanoparticles (ENPs). This bottleneck is continued when performing Life Cycle Impact Assessment, where characterization models and consequently characterization factors (CFs) for ENPs are missing. This paper aims to provide the freshwater ecotoxicity CF for titanium dioxide nanoparticles (nano-TiO2). The USEtox™ model has been selected as a characterisation model. An adjusted multimedia fate model has been developed which accounts for nano-specific fate process descriptors (i.e. sedimentation, aggregation with suspended particle matter, etc.) to estimate the fate of nano-TiO2 in freshwater. A literature survey of toxicity tests performed on freshwater organism representative of multiple trophic levels was conducted, including algae, crustaceans and fish in order to collect relevant EC50 values. Then, the toxic effect of nano-TiO2 was computed on the basis of the HC50 value. Thus, following the principle of USEtox™ model and accounting for nano-specific descriptors a CF for the toxic impact of freshwater ecotoxicity of 0.28PAFdaym3kg-1 is proposed.
Science of the Total Environment, 2015, Vol 505, p. 494-502