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A schematic method to characterize the human health impact of toxic chemicals is presented. This schematic method uses a streamlined three-tiered hierarchy process which includes intake, toxicity and persistence of a chemical release for its impact characterization. The human health impact of a chemical is represented by its position in a two-dimensional characterization plot, which enables the benchmarking of chemicals to be easily made by comparing the relative positions of the chemicals in the characterization plot. A case study is performed on 12 toxic chemicals commonly used as solvents by the manufacturing industry. The reliability of this schematic method is checked and confirmed by comparing its benchmarked results with that of the conventional Human Toxicity Potential (HTP) method. With an explicit model structure and a visual representation, this schematic method increases the transparency of the human impact assessment and can facilitate decision-making in the material screening and benchmarking of toxic chemicals for implementation of sustainable design and manufacturing strategies.
Date of Conference: 18-20 May 2009