LCA and contaminated sites
Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a tool for assessing the environmental impact of services or products. This project wants to explore the potential contribution of LCA for contaminated site management, via the comparison of several remediation strategies (excavation, phytoremediation and “do nothing” options) for soils contaminated by heavy metals. The study aims at identifying the main methodological gaps in modelling impacts at midpoint and endpoint levels and providing insights for filling in these gaps. In particular, emphasis is put on the impact of the site itself on the surrounding environment compared to remediation options. Excavation resulted to have the greater impact on the human health, while it is the smallest for the water ecosystem. Temporal and spatial dimension play a role in the evaluation of the damage. The results given by global and regional IMPACT2002 model are compared, and their allocation in short-term and long-term periods is shown with the introduction of the Stored Additional Impact (SAI), which goal is to help the comprehension of the outcome. The most important missing information in the method is the evaluation of the pollution impact on the contaminated site itself and its ecological and economical value after the management. To do this the combination of Ecological Risk Assessment (ERA) and LCA is suggested. The conclusion is that LCA can bring additional information that contribute to the decision making process of site management. In particular, the “do nothing” scenario serves as a reference impact and helps deducing the real efficiency and utility of the other remediation processes.