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Human health and ecotoxicological considerations in materials selection for sustainable product development

  • Oladele A. Ogunseitan (a1) and Julie M. Schoenung (a2)

Abstract

The cost and performance of materials have traditionally been the primary factors considered by designers of consumer products. Recent attempts to quantify the environmental sustainability of such products have stimulated the development of methods for assessing the reserves of raw materials compared to the demand for their use in manufacturing and impacts on energy resources. To a much more limited extent, these strategies also evaluate how chemical toxicity, arising from material production, use, and disposal, affects human and environmental health. The mechanisms and adverse impacts of toxic effects vary widely at different points within material life cycles, making it difficult to establish internally consistent methods and weighting criteria for quantitative evaluation of the environmental liability of consumer products. This article reviews advances in the methodology and application of health and ecological impact assessments of materials used in consumer products and argues for a stronger integration of toxicity metrics into materials informatics databases.

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References

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