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Occurrence of Single- and Double-Peaked Emission Profiles of Synthetic Chemicals

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journal contribution
posted on 27.03.2018, 00:00 by Li Li, Frank Wania
This work aims to elucidate the circumstances that can lead to two peaks in the temporal emission profile of synthetic chemicals. Using a simplified substance flow model, we explore how emission factors, product lifespan, and degradation half-life in waste stock influence the (i) relative importance of emissions from three lifecycle stages (industrial processes, use phase, and waste disposal), and (ii) the resulting composite emission profile. A double-peaked emission profile occurs if the lifespan of products containing the chemical is longer than its production history, and the gross emission factor from waste disposal exceeds that from the use phase. Since most chemicals fail to meet these two conditions, it is reasonable to use single-peaked emission profile as the default in environmental studies. On the basis of their emission profiles and contributions from individual lifecycle stages, we can categorize chemicals into “simple single-peakers”, “composite single-peakers”, and “double-peakers”. Our simplified model derived emission profiles for five real chemicals that agree well with earlier, more sophisticated calculations, indicating the model’s ability to capture the essential features of actual emissions. It is hoped that the model and conclusions in this work will benefit both environmental modelers and decision makers.