Limitations

LCA analysts face other fundamental dilemmas. How to examine a comprehensive range of effects to reach a decision? How to compare different categories of impact? Assessment across categories is highly subjective and value laden. Thus, impact analysis must account for both scientific judgment and societal values. Decision theory and other approaches can help LCA practitioners make these complex and value-laden decisions.

Impact assessment inherits all the problems of inventory analysis. These problems include lack of data and time and cost constraints. Although many impact assessment models are available, their ability to predict environmental effects varies. Fundamental knowledge in some areas of this field is still lacking.

In addition to basic inventory data, impact analysis requires more information. The often complex and time-consuming task of making further measurements also creates barriers for impact analysis.

Even so, impact analysis is an important part of life cycle design. For now, development teams must rely on simplified methods. LCA analysts should keep abreast of developments in impact analysis so that they can apply the best available tools that meet time and cost constraints.

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