Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs)
 

Some common environmental impacts measured by an LCA
 
Climate change Includes all the 'greenhouse' gases that are thought to cause climate change such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, water vapour and ozone.
Ozone depletion The ozone layer in the Earth's stratosphere provides protection against ultraviolet light. The depletion of ozone has been caused mainly by now-controlled CFCs, but other halogen compound emissions containing chlorine and bromine continue to cause damage.
Eutrophication Eutrophication is when water bodies are fertilised with nitrogen and phosphorus, resulting in unnaturally high rates of plant production and accumulation of organic matter. This disruption of the natural balance leads to changes in animal and plant populations as well as degradation of water and habitat quality.
Acidification The acidification of soil or water bodies is as a result of gases formed during the burning of fossil fuels. Oil and coal combustion in particular can lead to oxides of nitrogen and sulphur reacting in the atmosphere to produce acids that are dissolved in rainfall.
Smog Photochemical smog is caused by greater than usual quantities of ozone at ground level. The ozone is formed by a combination of sun (hence 'summer smog'), nitrogen oxide (from combustion sources such as car fumes) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Smog is also associated with an accumulation of pollutants such as aldehydes and fine particles.
Human toxicity This most challenging and least comprehensive of measurements attempts to quantify the wide range of emissions that threaten human health. Though many toxins are well-understood, there are more whose impacts are not fully understood. Equally, there is a significantly large body of emissions whose toxic effects are contentious.
Fresh water ecotoxicity A measure of the release of toxic substances, such as pesticides, into freshwater ecosystems which cause the accumulation of pollutants in freshwater plants, fish and animals.
Terrestrial ecotoxicity A measure of toxic substances emitted to terrestrial ecosystems.
Fossil fuel depletion Measures the loss of non-renewable fossil fuels. The degree of concern is related to the remaining reserves and the rate of extraction.
Waste The quantity of waste that is directed to landfill or incineration.
Water extraction The quantity of water used as part of the life-cycle. Water is an increasingly scarce commodity, use of which, even in the UK, is becoming regulated.
Minerals extraction Also known as 'abiotic depletion' (including fossil fuels), refers to the exhaustion of natural resources including minerals such as iron ore or copper, which are regarded as non-living.
Nuclear waste Radioactivity is a threat to all eco-systems including humans. Nuclear waste is a by-product of the nuclear power industry. Waste can be radioactive for thousands of years and, as yet, there is no agreed format for permanent disposal. 

 

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