GaBi Solutions




USEtox is a scientific consensus model endorsed by the UNEP/SETAC Life Cycle Initiative for characterizing human and ecotoxicological impacts of chemicals. USEtox is developed under the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) Life Cycle Initiative, directly involving the model developers of CalTOX, IMPACT 2002, USES-LCA, BETR, EDIP, WATSON and EcoSense.


The currently implemented version in GaBi is USEtox 2.12



The USEtox model operates on four different spatial scales: indoor, urban, continental and global.


The indoor and urban scales only have an air compartment, whereas the continental and global scales consists of five compartments: air, agricultural soil, natural soil, freshwater, and sea water.


All values for the air compartment in GaBi are calculated as the average of the rural and urban air compartment in USEtox.


USEtox calculates characterization factors for human toxicity and freshwater ecotoxicity via three steps:


  • Environmental fate, where the distribution and degradation of each substance is modelled
  • Exposure where the exposure of humans, animals and plants are modelled and
  • Effects, where the inherent damage of the substance is researched

Human effect factors relate the quantity taken in to the potential risk of cancerous and non-cancerous effects expressing cases per kg of chemical emitted. The final unit is comparative toxic units (CTUh).


Effect factors for freshwater ecosystems are based on species-specific data of concentration at which 50% of a population displays an effect, expressed as an estimate of the potentially affected fraction of species (PAF) integrated over time and volume per unit mass of a chemical emitted (PAF m3-day/ kg). The final unit is comparative toxic units (CTUe).


The model provides both recommended and interim characterization factors for human health and freshwater ecotoxicity impacts. Two sets of characterization factors are implemented in GaBi: one includes only the recommended factors, while the other contains both recommended and interim factors.


The interim factors are estimated with a higher degree of uncertainty than the recommended and should be used with caution. If interim factors are dominating the result of a Life Cycle Assessment a sensitivity analysis should be carried out.


Sphera cannot be held responsible for any of this information and data.




Normalization factors are not available for the most current USEtox characterization factors. Normalizations is available for an older set of USEtox factors for Europe and North America.




Rosenbaum RK, Bachmann TK, Gold LS, Huijbregts MAJ, Jolliet O, Juraske R, Koehler A, Larsen HF, MacLeod M, Margni M, McKone TE, Payet J, Schuhmacher M, Van de Meent D and Hauschild MZ (2008), USEtox - The UNEP/SETAC-consensus model: recommended characterisation factors for human toxicity and freshwater ecotoxicity in Life Cycle Impact Assessment. International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 13(7): 532-546.
Hauschild MZ, Huijbregts MAJ, Jolliet O, MacLeod M, Margni M, Van de Meent D, Rosenbaum RK and McKone TE (2008). Building a model based on scientific consensus for Life Cycle Impact Assessment of Chemicals: the Search for Harmony and Parsimony. Environmental Science and Technology 42(19): 7032–7037.
Laurent A, Lautier A, Rosenbaum RK, Olsen SI and Hauschild MZ (2011). Normalization references for Europe and North America for application with USEtox™ characterization factors The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 16 ( 8), 728-738, DOI: 10.1007/s11367-011-0285-7

Complete model and characterisation results can be downloaded from the USEtox website.

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