Challenges of including human exposure to chemicals in food packaging as a new exposure pathway in life cycle impact assessment

Alexi Ernstoff, Monia Niero, Jane Muncke, Xenia Trie, Ralph K. Rosenbaum, Michael Hauschild, Peter Fantke

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: Limiting exposure to potentially toxic chemicals in food packaging can lead to environmental impact trade-offs. No available tool, however, considers trade-offs between environmental impacts of packaging systems and exposure to potentially toxic chemicals in food packaging. This study therefore explores the research needs for extending life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) to include exposure to chemicals in food packaging. Methods: The LCIA framework for human toxicity was extended for the first time to include consumer exposure to chemicals in food packaging through the product intake fraction (PiF) metric. The related exposure pathway was added to LCIA without other modifications to the existing toxicity characterization framework used by USEtox®, i.e., effect factor derivation. The developed method was applied to a high impact polystyrene (HIPS) container case study with the functional unit of providing 1 kg of yogurt in single servings. Various exposure scenarios were considered, including an evidence-based scenario using concentration data and a migration model. Human toxicity impact scores in comparative toxic units (CTU h ) for the use stage were evaluated and then compared to human toxicity impact scores from a conventional LCIA methodology. Results and discussion: Data allowed toxicity characterization of use stage exposure to only seven chemicals in HIPS out of fourty-four identified. Data required were the initial concentration of chemicals in food packaging, chemical mass transfer from packaging into food, and relevant toxicity information. Toxicity characterization demonstrated that the combined CTU h for HIPS material acquisition, manufacturing, and disposal stages exceeded the toxicity scores related to consumer exposure to previously estimated concentrations of the seven characterizable chemicals in HIPS, by about two orders of magnitude. The CTU h associated with consumer exposure became relevant when migration was above 0.1% of the European regulatory levels. Results emphasize missing data for chemical concentrations in food contact materials and a need to expand the current USEtox method for effect factor derivation (e.g., to consider endocrine disruption, mixture toxicity, background exposure, and thresholds when relevant). Conclusions: An LCIA method was developed to include consumer exposure to chemicals in food packaging. Further study is required to assess realistic scenarios to inform decisions and policies, such as circular economy, which can lead to trade-offs between environmental impacts and potentially toxic chemicals in packaging. To apply the developed method, data regarding occurrence, concentration, and toxicity of chemicals in food packaging are needed. Revisiting the derivation of effect factors in future work could improve the interpretation of human toxicity impact scores.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Life Cycle Assessment
Volume24
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)543–552
Number of pages10
ISSN0948-3349
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019

Fingerprint

life cycle
toxicity
food
environmental impact
packaging
impact assessment
exposure
chemical
assessment method
mass transfer
manufacturing
methodology
method

Keywords

  • Food contact materials
  • Human toxicity potential
  • Near-field exposure
  • Risk assessment

Cite this

Ernstoff, Alexi ; Niero, Monia ; Muncke, Jane ; Trie, Xenia ; Rosenbaum, Ralph K. ; Hauschild, Michael ; Fantke, Peter. / Challenges of including human exposure to chemicals in food packaging as a new exposure pathway in life cycle impact assessment. In: International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment. 2019 ; Vol. 24, No. 3. pp. 543–552.
@article{76d0b781a551477fb7087aec3e446ac8,
title = "Challenges of including human exposure to chemicals in food packaging as a new exposure pathway in life cycle impact assessment",
abstract = "Purpose: Limiting exposure to potentially toxic chemicals in food packaging can lead to environmental impact trade-offs. No available tool, however, considers trade-offs between environmental impacts of packaging systems and exposure to potentially toxic chemicals in food packaging. This study therefore explores the research needs for extending life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) to include exposure to chemicals in food packaging. Methods: The LCIA framework for human toxicity was extended for the first time to include consumer exposure to chemicals in food packaging through the product intake fraction (PiF) metric. The related exposure pathway was added to LCIA without other modifications to the existing toxicity characterization framework used by USEtox{\circledR}, i.e., effect factor derivation. The developed method was applied to a high impact polystyrene (HIPS) container case study with the functional unit of providing 1 kg of yogurt in single servings. Various exposure scenarios were considered, including an evidence-based scenario using concentration data and a migration model. Human toxicity impact scores in comparative toxic units (CTU h ) for the use stage were evaluated and then compared to human toxicity impact scores from a conventional LCIA methodology. Results and discussion: Data allowed toxicity characterization of use stage exposure to only seven chemicals in HIPS out of fourty-four identified. Data required were the initial concentration of chemicals in food packaging, chemical mass transfer from packaging into food, and relevant toxicity information. Toxicity characterization demonstrated that the combined CTU h for HIPS material acquisition, manufacturing, and disposal stages exceeded the toxicity scores related to consumer exposure to previously estimated concentrations of the seven characterizable chemicals in HIPS, by about two orders of magnitude. The CTU h associated with consumer exposure became relevant when migration was above 0.1{\%} of the European regulatory levels. Results emphasize missing data for chemical concentrations in food contact materials and a need to expand the current USEtox method for effect factor derivation (e.g., to consider endocrine disruption, mixture toxicity, background exposure, and thresholds when relevant). Conclusions: An LCIA method was developed to include consumer exposure to chemicals in food packaging. Further study is required to assess realistic scenarios to inform decisions and policies, such as circular economy, which can lead to trade-offs between environmental impacts and potentially toxic chemicals in packaging. To apply the developed method, data regarding occurrence, concentration, and toxicity of chemicals in food packaging are needed. Revisiting the derivation of effect factors in future work could improve the interpretation of human toxicity impact scores.",
keywords = "Food contact materials, Human toxicity potential, Near-field exposure, Risk assessment",
author = "Alexi Ernstoff and Monia Niero and Jane Muncke and Xenia Trie and Rosenbaum, {Ralph K.} and Michael Hauschild and Peter Fantke",
year = "2019",
month = "3",
doi = "10.1007/s11367-018-1569-y",
language = "English",
volume = "24",
pages = "543–552",
journal = "International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment",
issn = "0948-3349",
publisher = "Physica-Verlag",
number = "3",

}

Challenges of including human exposure to chemicals in food packaging as a new exposure pathway in life cycle impact assessment. / Ernstoff, Alexi; Niero, Monia; Muncke, Jane ; Trie, Xenia ; Rosenbaum, Ralph K. ; Hauschild, Michael; Fantke, Peter.

In: International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, Vol. 24, No. 3, 03.2019, p. 543–552.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Challenges of including human exposure to chemicals in food packaging as a new exposure pathway in life cycle impact assessment

AU - Ernstoff, Alexi

AU - Niero, Monia

AU - Muncke, Jane

AU - Trie, Xenia

AU - Rosenbaum, Ralph K.

AU - Hauschild, Michael

AU - Fantke, Peter

PY - 2019/3

Y1 - 2019/3

N2 - Purpose: Limiting exposure to potentially toxic chemicals in food packaging can lead to environmental impact trade-offs. No available tool, however, considers trade-offs between environmental impacts of packaging systems and exposure to potentially toxic chemicals in food packaging. This study therefore explores the research needs for extending life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) to include exposure to chemicals in food packaging. Methods: The LCIA framework for human toxicity was extended for the first time to include consumer exposure to chemicals in food packaging through the product intake fraction (PiF) metric. The related exposure pathway was added to LCIA without other modifications to the existing toxicity characterization framework used by USEtox®, i.e., effect factor derivation. The developed method was applied to a high impact polystyrene (HIPS) container case study with the functional unit of providing 1 kg of yogurt in single servings. Various exposure scenarios were considered, including an evidence-based scenario using concentration data and a migration model. Human toxicity impact scores in comparative toxic units (CTU h ) for the use stage were evaluated and then compared to human toxicity impact scores from a conventional LCIA methodology. Results and discussion: Data allowed toxicity characterization of use stage exposure to only seven chemicals in HIPS out of fourty-four identified. Data required were the initial concentration of chemicals in food packaging, chemical mass transfer from packaging into food, and relevant toxicity information. Toxicity characterization demonstrated that the combined CTU h for HIPS material acquisition, manufacturing, and disposal stages exceeded the toxicity scores related to consumer exposure to previously estimated concentrations of the seven characterizable chemicals in HIPS, by about two orders of magnitude. The CTU h associated with consumer exposure became relevant when migration was above 0.1% of the European regulatory levels. Results emphasize missing data for chemical concentrations in food contact materials and a need to expand the current USEtox method for effect factor derivation (e.g., to consider endocrine disruption, mixture toxicity, background exposure, and thresholds when relevant). Conclusions: An LCIA method was developed to include consumer exposure to chemicals in food packaging. Further study is required to assess realistic scenarios to inform decisions and policies, such as circular economy, which can lead to trade-offs between environmental impacts and potentially toxic chemicals in packaging. To apply the developed method, data regarding occurrence, concentration, and toxicity of chemicals in food packaging are needed. Revisiting the derivation of effect factors in future work could improve the interpretation of human toxicity impact scores.

AB - Purpose: Limiting exposure to potentially toxic chemicals in food packaging can lead to environmental impact trade-offs. No available tool, however, considers trade-offs between environmental impacts of packaging systems and exposure to potentially toxic chemicals in food packaging. This study therefore explores the research needs for extending life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) to include exposure to chemicals in food packaging. Methods: The LCIA framework for human toxicity was extended for the first time to include consumer exposure to chemicals in food packaging through the product intake fraction (PiF) metric. The related exposure pathway was added to LCIA without other modifications to the existing toxicity characterization framework used by USEtox®, i.e., effect factor derivation. The developed method was applied to a high impact polystyrene (HIPS) container case study with the functional unit of providing 1 kg of yogurt in single servings. Various exposure scenarios were considered, including an evidence-based scenario using concentration data and a migration model. Human toxicity impact scores in comparative toxic units (CTU h ) for the use stage were evaluated and then compared to human toxicity impact scores from a conventional LCIA methodology. Results and discussion: Data allowed toxicity characterization of use stage exposure to only seven chemicals in HIPS out of fourty-four identified. Data required were the initial concentration of chemicals in food packaging, chemical mass transfer from packaging into food, and relevant toxicity information. Toxicity characterization demonstrated that the combined CTU h for HIPS material acquisition, manufacturing, and disposal stages exceeded the toxicity scores related to consumer exposure to previously estimated concentrations of the seven characterizable chemicals in HIPS, by about two orders of magnitude. The CTU h associated with consumer exposure became relevant when migration was above 0.1% of the European regulatory levels. Results emphasize missing data for chemical concentrations in food contact materials and a need to expand the current USEtox method for effect factor derivation (e.g., to consider endocrine disruption, mixture toxicity, background exposure, and thresholds when relevant). Conclusions: An LCIA method was developed to include consumer exposure to chemicals in food packaging. Further study is required to assess realistic scenarios to inform decisions and policies, such as circular economy, which can lead to trade-offs between environmental impacts and potentially toxic chemicals in packaging. To apply the developed method, data regarding occurrence, concentration, and toxicity of chemicals in food packaging are needed. Revisiting the derivation of effect factors in future work could improve the interpretation of human toxicity impact scores.

KW - Food contact materials

KW - Human toxicity potential

KW - Near-field exposure

KW - Risk assessment

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85058650437&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1007/s11367-018-1569-y

DO - 10.1007/s11367-018-1569-y

M3 - Journal article

VL - 24

SP - 543

EP - 552

JO - International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment

JF - International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment

SN - 0948-3349

IS - 3

ER -