Characterization factors for thermal pollution in freshwater aquatic environments

Francesca Verones, Marlia Mohd Hanafiah, Stephan Pfister, Mark A J Huijbregts, Gregory J. Pelletier, Annette Koehler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

53 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

To date the impact of thermal emissions has not been addressed in life cycle assessment despite the narrow thermal tolerance of most aquatic species. A method to derive characterization factors for the impact of cooling water discharges on aquatic ecosystems was developed which uses space and time explicit integration of fate and effects of water temperature changes. The fate factor is calculated with a 1-dimensional steady-state model and reflects the residence time of heat emissions in the river. The effect factor specifies the loss of species diversity per unit of temperature increase and is based on a species sensitivity distribution of temperature tolerance intervals for various aquatic species. As an example, time explicit characterization factors were calculated for the cooling water discharge of a nuclear power plant in Switzerland, quantifying the impact on aquatic ecosystems of the rivers Aare and Rhine. The relative importance of the impact of these cooling water discharges was compared with other impacts in life cycle assessment. We found that thermal emissions are relevant for aquatic ecosystems compared to other stressors, such as chemicals and nutrients. For the case of nuclear electricity investigated, thermal emissions contribute between 3% and over 90% to Ecosystem Quality damage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9364-9369
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Volume44
Issue number24
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2010
Externally publishedYes

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Thermal pollution
thermal pollution
freshwater environment
aquatic environment
cooling water
Aquatic ecosystems
aquatic ecosystem
Cooling water
life cycle
Life cycle
temperature tolerance
Rivers
space use
nuclear power plant
river
Biodiversity
residence time
species diversity
electricity
water temperature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry

Cite this

Characterization factors for thermal pollution in freshwater aquatic environments. / Verones, Francesca; Mohd Hanafiah, Marlia; Pfister, Stephan; Huijbregts, Mark A J; Pelletier, Gregory J.; Koehler, Annette.

In: Environmental Science and Technology, Vol. 44, No. 24, 15.12.2010, p. 9364-9369.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Verones, F, Mohd Hanafiah, M, Pfister, S, Huijbregts, MAJ, Pelletier, GJ & Koehler, A 2010, 'Characterization factors for thermal pollution in freshwater aquatic environments', Environmental Science and Technology, vol. 44, no. 24, pp. 9364-9369. https://doi.org/10.1021/es102260c
Verones, Francesca ; Mohd Hanafiah, Marlia ; Pfister, Stephan ; Huijbregts, Mark A J ; Pelletier, Gregory J. ; Koehler, Annette. / Characterization factors for thermal pollution in freshwater aquatic environments. In: Environmental Science and Technology. 2010 ; Vol. 44, No. 24. pp. 9364-9369.
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