Characterisation factors for life cycle impact assessment of sound emissions

S. Cucurachi, R. Heijungs

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Noise is a serious stressor affecting the health of millions of citizens. It has been suggested that disturbance by noise is responsible for a substantial part of the damage to human health. However, no recommended approach to address noise impacts was proposed by the handbook for life cycle assessment (LCA) of the European Commission, nor are characterisation factors (CFs) and appropriate inventory data available in commonly used databases. This contribution provides CFs to allow for the quantification of noise impacts on human health in the LCA framework. Noise propagation standards and international reports on acoustics and noise impacts were used to define the model parameters. Spatial data was used to calculate spatially-defined CFs in the form of 10-by-10-km maps. The results of this analysis were combined with data from the literature to select input data for representative archetypal situations of emission (e.g. urban day with a frequency of 63. Hz, rural night at 8000. Hz, etc.). A total of 32 spatial and 216 archetypal CFs were produced to evaluate noise impacts at a European level (i.e. EU27). The possibility of a user-defined characterisation factor was added to support the possibility of portraying the situation of full availability of information, as well as a highly-localised impact analysis. A Monte Carlo-based quantitative global sensitivity analysis method was applied to evaluate the importance of the input factors in determining the variance of the output. The factors produced are ready to be implemented in the available LCA databases and software. The spatial approach and archetypal approach may be combined and selected according to the amount of information available and the life cycle under study. The framework proposed and used for calculations is flexible enough to be expanded to account for impacts on target subjects other than humans and to continents other than Europe. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)280-291
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 2014


Dive into the research topics of 'Characterisation factors for life cycle impact assessment of sound emissions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this