Human-induced changes in water consumption and global warming are likely to reduce the species richness of freshwater ecosystems. So far, these impacts have not been addressed in the context of life cycle assessment (LCA). Here, we derived characterization factors for water consumption and global warming based on freshwater fish species loss. Calculation of characterization factors for potential freshwater fish losses from water consumption were estimated using a generic species-river discharge curve for 214 global river basins. We also derived characterization factors for potential freshwater fish species losses per unit of greenhouse gas emission. Based on five global climate scenarios, characterization factors for 63 greenhouse gas emissions were calculated. Depending on the river considered, characterization factors for water consumption can differ up to 3 orders of magnitude. Characterization factors for greenhouse gas emissions can vary up to 5 orders of magnitude, depending on the atmospheric residence time and radiative forcing efficiency of greenhouse gas emissions. An emission of 1 ton of CO2 is expected to cause the same impact on potential fish species disappearance as the water consumption of 10-1000 m(3), depending on the river basin considered. Our results make it possible to compare the impact of water consumption with greenhouse gas emissions.
Life cycle assessment (LCA) has been used to assess freshwater-related impacts according to a new water footprint framework formalized in the ISO 14046 standard. To date, no consensus-based approach exists for applying this standard and results are not always comparable when different scarcity or stress indicators are used for characterization of impacts. This paper presents the outcome of a 2-year consensus building process by the Water Use in Life Cycle Assessment (WULCA), a working group of the UNEP-SETAC Life Cycle Initiative, on a water scarcity midpoint method for use in LCA and for water scarcity footprint assessments.In the previous work, the question to be answered was identified and different expert workshops around the world led to three different proposals. After eliminating one proposal showing low relevance for the question to be answered, the remaining two were evaluated against four criteria: stakeholder acceptance, robustness with closed basins, main normative choice, and physical meaning.The recommended method, AWARE, is based on the quantification of the relative available water remaining per area once the demand of humans and aquatic ecosystems has been met, answering the question “What is the potential to deprive another user (human or ecosystem) when consuming water in this area?” The resulting characterization factor (CF) ranges between 0.1 and 100 and can be used to calculate water scarcity footprints as defined in the ISO standard.After 8 years of development on water use impact assessment methods, and 2 years of consensus building, this method represents the state of the art of the current knowledge on how to assess potential impacts from water use in LCA, assessing both human and ecosystem users’ potential deprivation, at the midpoint level, and provides a consensus-based methodology for the calculation of a water scarcity footprint as per ISO 14046.
The shortage of agricultural water from freshwater sources is a growing concern because of the relatively large amounts needed to sustain food production for an increasing population. In this context, an impact assessment methodology is indispensable for the identification and assessment of the potential consequences of freshwater consumption in relation to agricultural water scarcity. This paper reports on the consistent development of midpoint and endpoint characterisation factors (CFs) for assessing these impacts.Midpoint characterisation factors focus specifically on shortages in food production resulting from agricultural water scarcity. These were calculated by incorporating country-specific compensation factors for physical availability of water resources and socio-economic capacity in relation to the irrigation water demand for agriculture. At the endpoint, to reflect the more complex impact pathways from food production losses to malnutrition damage from agricultural water scarcity, international food trade relationships and economic adaptation capacity were integrated in the modelling with measures of nutritional vulnerability for each country.The inter-country variances of CFs at the midpoint revealed by this study were larger than those derived using previously developed methods, which did not integrate compensation processes by food stocks. At the endpoint level, both national and trade-induced damage through international trade were quantified and visualised. Distribution of malnutrition damage was also determined by production and trade balances for commodity groups in water-consuming countries, as well as dependency on import ratios for importer countries and economic adaptation capacity in each country. By incorporating the complex relationships between these factors, estimated malnutrition damage due to freshwater consumption at the country scale showed good correlation with total reported nutritional deficiency damage.The model allows the establishment of consistent CFs at the midpoint and endpoint for agricultural water scarcity resulting from freshwater consumption. The complex relationships between food production supply and nutrition damage can be described by considering the physical and socio-economic parameters used in this study. Developed CFs contribute to a better assessment of the potential impacts associated with freshwater consumption in global supply chains and to life cycle assessment and water footprint assessments.
The purpose of this research was the characterization and improvement of the quality of water used for human consumption of unregulated/regulated water sources located in the Cameron/Tuba City abandoned uranium mining area (NE Arizona, western edge of the Navajo Nation). Samples were collected at six water sources which included regulated sources: Wind Mill (Tank 3T-538), Badger Springs and Paddock Well as well as unregulated sources: Willy Spring, Water Wall and Water Hole. Samples taken from Wind Mill, Water Wall and Water Hole were characterized with high turbidity and color as well as high level of manganese, iron and nickel and elevated value of molybdenum. High level of iron was also found in Badger Spring, Willy Spring, and Paddock Well. These three water sources were also characterized with elevated values of fluoride and vanadium. Significant amounts of zinc were found in Water Wall and Water Hole samples. Water Wall sample was also characterized with high level of Cr VI . Compared to primary or secondary Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency (NNEPA) water quality standard the highest enrichment was found for turbidity (50.000 times), color (up to 1.796 times) and manganese (71 times), Cr VI (17.5 times), iron (7.4 times) and arsenic (5.2 times). Activities of 226 Ra and 238 U in water samples were still in agreement with the maximum contaminant levels. In order to comply with NNEPA water quality standard water samples were subjected to electrochemical treatment. This method was selected due to its high removal efficiency for heavy metals and uranium, lower settlement time, production of smaller volume of waste mud and higher stability of waste mud compared to physico-chemical treatment. Following the treatment, concentrations of heavy metals and activities of radionuclides in all samples were significantly lower compared to NNEPA or WHO regulated values. The maximum removal efficiencies for color, turbidity, arsenic, manganese, molybdenum and nickel were 100.0%. Maximum removal percentage of Cu, F − , V, Zn, 137 Cs, 226 Ra, 232 Th, 238 U were as follows: 98.0%; 82.7%; 99.9%; 95.6%; 75.0%; 76.9%; 80.0% and 99.2%. From the results presented it could be concluded that electrochemical treatment is a suitable approach for the purification of drinking water with complex mixture of contaminants, especially those with high turbidity and color.
In recent history, human development overbalanced towards economic growth has often been accompanied by the degradation and reduction of freshwater resources at the expense of freshwater dependent ecosystems. For their subsistence and correct functioning, understanding environmental water requirements (EWR) represents an area of great interest for life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) and it has been only marginally explored. The aim of this paper is to investigate how this concept has evolved in ecological and hydrological literature and how it can be better integrated in LCIA, to identify potential options for improvement of LCIA indicators in the short, mid and long term.To address the limitations of existing LCIA approaches in modelling EWR, four families of EWR methods have been reviewed, namely hydrological, hydraulic, habitat simulation and holistic methods. Based on existing scientific literature and their broad application, 24 methods have been selected and their suitability to be adopted in LCIA has been evaluated against nine criteria, with regard to data management issues, accuracy, scientific robustness, and potential for future development. A semi-quantitative performance score has been subsequently assigned for each criterion, showing the main strengths and weaknesses of selected methods.The underlying rationale of the chosen approaches is markedly different, likewise the input information needed and results applicability. Hydrological methods are well suited for the development of global models and they are the only ones currently considered in LCIA, although their applicability remains limited to water stress indicators. Habitat modelling is identified as an essential step for the development of mechanistic LCIA models and endpoint indicators. In this respect, hydraulic, habitat simulation and holistic methods are fit for the purpose. However, habitat simulation methods represent the best compromise between scientific robustness and applicability in LCIA. For this reason, a conceptual framework for the development of habitat-based characterization factors has been proposed. Among the evaluated habitat simulation methods, ESTIMHAB showed the best performance and was the method retained for the development of an LCIA model that will assess the consequences of water consumption on stream ecosystems.This study identifies the advantages of specific modelling approaches for the assessment of water requirements for ecosystems. Selected methods could support the development of LCIA models at different levels. In the short-term for improving environmental relevance of water stress indicators, and in the mid/long-term to build up midpoint habitat indicators relating water needs of ecosystems with new endpoint metrics.
Brazilian fish processing industries have grown due to public investments and changes in population habits. However, these industries consume a large volume of water and generate, in the same proportion, effluents, with high organic loading. Given that the market for commerce has more and stricter regulations, and the importance of environmental sustainability for the industries of the sector becomes more present, it is necessary to propose strategies for the aid of water conservation. Therefore, the objective of this study was to propose the minimization of water use in the production process and the reduction of liquid effluents generated in the industrial fish processing stages. For the study, the points where there was higher water consumption, the characterization of the effluent and the evaluation of the reuse potential in a pilot fish warehouse were identified. The results showed that the theoretical reduction of water consumption, after applying the principles of minimization, was 10.3%. When recycle or reuse of the effluent was applied, the reduction was 15.92%. The sustainability of the process intensifies when there is the separation of streams, combined with the practices of reduction of water consumption and recycling/reuse of the effluents after submission to the appropriate treatment.
Environmental impact assessment models are readily available for the assessment of pollution-related impacts in life cycle assessment (LCA). These models have led to an increased focus on water pollution issues resulting in numerous LCA studies. Recently, there have been significant developments in methods assessing freshwater use. These improvements widen the scope for the assessment of wastewater treatment (WWT) technologies, now allowing us to apprehend, for the first time, a combination of operational (energy and chemicals use), qualitative (environmental pollution) and quantitative (water deprivation) issues in wastewater treatment. This enables us to address the following question: Is water consumption during wastewater treatment environmentally significant compared to other impacts? To answer this question, a standard life cycle inventory (LCI) was performed with a focus on consumptive water uses at plant level, where several WWT technologies were operating, in different climatic conditions. The impacts of water consumption were assessed by integrating regionalized characterization factors for water deprivation within an existing life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) method. Results at the midpoint level, show that water deprivation impacts are highly variable in relation to the chosen WWT technology (water volume used) and of WWTP location (local water scarcity). At the endpoint level, water deprivation impacts on ecosystem quality and on the resource damage categories are significant for WWT technologies with great water uses in water-scarce areas. Therefore, our study shows the consideration of water consumption-related impacts is essential and underlines the need for a greater understanding of the water consumption impacts caused by WWT systems. This knowledge will help water managers better mitigate local water deprivation impacts, especially in selecting WWT technologies suitable for arid and semi-arid areas.
This work analyses the presence of forty-eight emerging pollutants, including twenty-five drugs of abuse and metabolites, seventeen cytostatic drugs and six iodinated contrast media, in tap water from the Madrid Region. Analysis of the target compounds in the tap water was performed by means of (on-line or off-line) solid-phase extraction followed by analysis by liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry. A preliminary human health risk characterization was undertaken for each individual compound and for different groups of compounds with a common mechanism of action found in tap water. The results of the study showed the presence of eight out of the twenty-five drugs of abuse and metabolites analysed, namely, the cocainics cocaine and benzoylecgonine, the amphetamine-type stimulants ephedrine, 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine and methamphetamine, the opioid methadone and its metabolite 2-ethylene-1,5-dimethyl-3,3-diphenylpyrrolidine and, finally caffeine at concentrations ranging from 0.11 to 502 ng L . Four out of the six analysed iodinated contrast media, namely, diatrizoate, iohexol, iomeprol and iopromide, were detected in at least one sample, with concentration values varying between 0.4 and 5 ng L . Cytostatic compounds were not detected in any sample. Caffeine was the substance showing the highest concentrations, up to 502 ng L , mainly in the drinking water sampling point located in Madrid city. Among the other drugs of abuse, the most abundant compounds were cocaine and benzoylecgonine, detected at concentrations ranging from 0.11 to 86 ng L and from 0.11 to 53 ng L , respectively. Regarding iodinated contrast media, iohexol was the most ubiquitous and abundant compound, with a frequency of detection of 100% and concentrations from 0.5 to 5.0 ng L in basically the same range in all sampling points. Taking into account the results and types of treatment applied, ozonisation plus granular activated carbon filtration appears to be efficient in the removal of cocaine and benzoylecgonine. For the amphetamine-type stimulants, opioids and caffeine, ozonisation plus granular activated carbon filtration and ultrafiltration plus reverse osmosis showed higher removal efficiency than sand filtration. The human health risk characterization performed indicates that the lifetime consumption of the tap waters analysed has associated a negligible human health concern.