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Development of damage function of acidification for terrestrial ecosystems based on the effect of aluminum toxicity on net primary production



Acidification is one of the important impact categories for life cycle impact assessment. Although its characterization has progressed during this decade through the employment of midpoint approaches, only limited studies of endpoint approaches have been performed. Objective. This study aimed at developing damage function of acidification for terrestrial ecosystems in Japan. Damage function expresses a quantitative relationship between the inventory and endpoint damage.


The geographical boundary was limited in Japan both for emission and impact. In this study, sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen monoxide (NO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) (NO and NO2 collectively mean NOx), hydrogen chloride (HC1), and ammonia (NH3) were considered as major causative substances of acidification. Net primary production (NPP) of existing vegetation was adopted as an impact indicator of terrestrial ecosystems. The aluminum toxicity was adopted as the major factor of effect on terrestrial ecosystems due to acidification. The leachate concentration of monomeric inorganic aluminum ions was selected to express the plant toxicity of aluminum.

Results and Discussion

The results of damage function gave utilizable factors both for a midpoint approach and an endpoint approach; Atmospheric Deposition Factor (ADF) and Damage Factor (DF) applicable to the former and the latter, respectively. The ADF indicates an increase of H+ deposition per unit area to an additional emission of causative sustance. The additional emission corresponds to some alternatives in industry, not the baseline emission. The DF indicates the total NPP damage in all of Japan due to the additional emission of causative substances. The derived NPP damage is on the order of one millionth of the NPP itself. HC1 and NH3 showed larger ADFs and DFs than that of SO2 and NOx. The reason was ascribed to the relatively large source-receptor relationships (SRR) of HC1 and NH3. However, since the method applied to determine the SRR of HC1 and NH3 has larger uncertainties than that of SO2 and NOx, attention is needed to handle the difference.


The damage function easily defines the concrete NPP damage due to an additional emission. The impact indica tor, NPP, also has an advantage in its mass unit that is directly summable through the entire impact categories. Expansion of endpoints, such as in aquatic ecosystems, material degradation, human health, and biodiversity aspects of terrestrial ecosystems, is an important subject for future work. Further, uncertain analyses for major parameters will provide helpful information on the reliability of damage function.

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Atmospheric Deposition Factor


Acidification Potential


Category Indicator


Damage Factor


Damage Indicator


Effect Factor


Life Cycle Assessment


Life Cycle Impact Assessment


Life-cycle Impact assessment Method based on Endpoint modeling


Normalized Difference Vegetation Index


Non-Neutrali-zation Ratio


Net Primary Productivity


Non-Sea Salt


Source-Receptor Relationship


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Correspondence to Kentaro Hayashi or Masanori Okazaki or Norihiro Itsubo or Atsushi Inaba.

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Hayashi, K., Okazaki, M., Itsubo, N. et al. Development of damage function of acidification for terrestrial ecosystems based on the effect of aluminum toxicity on net primary production. Int J LCA 9, 13–22 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02978532

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  • Acidification
  • acidifying substance
  • aluminum toxicity
  • causative substance
  • damage function
  • Japan
  • life cycle impact assessment
  • net primary productivity
  • terrestrial ecosystems