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Open Access Publications from the University of California

A Schematic Method for Sustainable Material Selection of Toxic Chemicals in Design and Manufacturing


Toxic chemicals used in product design and manufacturing are grave concerns due to their toxic impact on human health. Implementing sustainable material selection strategies on toxic chemicals can substantially improve the sustainability of products in both design and manufacturing processes. In this paper, a schematic method is presented for characterizing and benchmarking the human health impact of toxic chemicals, as a visual aid to facilitate decision-making in the material selection process for sustainable design and manufacturing. In this schematic method, the human health impact of a toxic chemical is characterized by two critical parameters: daily exposure risk R and environmental persistence T. The human health impact of a toxic chemical is represented by its position in the R−T two-dimensional plot, which enables the screening and benchmarking of toxic chemicals to be easily made through comparing their relative positions in the characterization plot. A case study is performed on six toxic chemicals commonly used as solvents for cleaning and degreasing in product development and manufacturing.

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