Chemical fate, effect, and damage should be accounted for in the analysis of human health impacts by toxic chemicals in life-cycle assessment (LCA). The goal of this article is to present a new method to derive human damage and effect factors of toxic pollutants, starting from a lognormal dose–response function. Human damage factors are expressed as disability-adjusted life years (DALYs). Human effect factors contain a disease-specific and a substance-specific component. The disease-specific component depends on the probability of disease occurrence and the distribution of sensitivities in the human population. The substance-specific component, equal to the inverse of the ED50, represents the toxic potency of a substance. The new method has been applied to calculate combined human damage and effect factors for 1,192 substances. The total range of 7 to 9 orders of magnitude between the substances is dominated by the range in toxic potencies. For the combined factors, the typical uncertainty, represented by the square root of the ratio of the 97.5th and 2.5th percentile, is a factor of 25 for carcinogenic effects and a factor of 125 for noncarcinogenic effects. The interspecies conversion factor, the (non)cancer effect conversion factor, and the average noncancer damage factor dominate the overall uncertainty.
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Vol. 1 • No. 3