248035 Life cycle assessment and the work environment: Case study in municipal solid waste end-of-life management methods

Monday, October 31, 2011

Kelly A. Scanlon, MPH, CIH , Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, Washington, DC
The purpose of this research is to provide decision makers with better information to make policy recommendations that promote sustainability in the management of municipal solid waste (MSW). Management methods evaluated in this research include energy-from-waste and landfilling. Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a decision support tool used to evaluate MSW management methods to decide which is best in terms of impacts on the environment, both at the local and global scale. Life cycle assessment, as a method, evaluates environmental impacts across a product system, from raw material acquisition through end-of-life management; it considers inputs and outputs and evaluates them as a system of interdependent parts. The goal of this research is to expand the scope of existing MSW LCA methods to include impacts to occupational health, a category often neglected in LCA due to data limitations, methodological limitations, and lack of professional subject matter expertise. Decisions made in the absence of quantified occupational health data may result in sub-optimization, where one portion of a system may be improved ignoring the effects on another portion of the system, leading to unintended consequences. This research demonstrates how occupational health data can inform LCA to ensure these impacts are no longer neglected.

Learning Areas:
Occupational health and safety
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the four steps that constitute the life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology and at least two life cycle impact categories common to LCA. 2. Identify three reasons why occupational health impacts should be included in LCA. 3. List the top three workplace stressors experienced by solid waste professionals who manage municipal solid waste at waste-to-energy facilities and landfills.

Keywords: Occupational Health, Workplace Stressors

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I am an occupational health professional with my certification in industrial hygiene, a master's degree in public health (environmental and occupational health), and I am currently a doctoral student studying life cycle assessment and the work environment.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.