Subproject 4

Indicators for hazardous chemicals, including pesticides
Pesticide spraying in Cauca, Colombia. Photo: Neil Palmer (CIAT) / Flickr
Pesticide spraying in Cauca, Colombia. Photo: Neil Palmer (CIAT) / Flickr


Subproject 4 will explore developing indicators for the use and emissions of hazardous chemicals, including pesticides. Hazardous chemicals have to date been included in assessments of environmental impacts of consumption to a very limited extent. The subproject will confront two major challenges: the scarce and uneven availability of comparable national data on the use and emissions of chemicals; and finding a meaningful way to aggregate data for a large number of substances with different environmental and health effects into meaningful indicators.

Subproject 4 will follow two main tracks so far used in Swedish studies for developing interim chemical footprint indicators:

  • Use of hazardous chemical products, mainly using registers such as that kept by the Swedish Chemicals Inspectorate and the Food and Agriculture Organization;
  • Emissions of hazardous substances, weighted to reflect associated risks, for example using the USEtox model. This will require assessing the availability of data on emissions, including data on pesticides and other priority hazardous substances; and evaluating methods for aggregating the diverse data.

Read a Q&A with Göran Finnveden on the pre-study using data from the European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register to develop a chemical footprint.

Read a blogpost by Göran Finnveden about the challenges of measuring chemical footprints.

The team

Subproject 4 is led by Göran Finnveden of KTH.

Key activities

  • Compile and evaluate available databases

  • Evaluate approaches for calculating chemical footprint indicators

  • Compile data into an environmental extension database compatible with the PRINCE framework defined in Subproject 2

  • Construct proxy indicators for chemical impacts from consumption

  • Report on data refinements, gaps and additions


  • Data tables

  • Scientific paper documenting the chemical data improvements and integration within a consumption-based accounting framework, with preliminary results for Sweden

  • Summary report

Recommended reading
Sörme, L., Palm, V. and Finnveden, G. (2016). Using E-PRTR data on point source emissions to air and water: first steps towards a national chemical footprint. Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 56. 102–12. DOI:10.1016/j.eiar.2015.09.007.

Brolinson, H., Palm, V., Wadeskog, A., Sörme, L., Arushanyan, Y. and Finnveden, G. (2013). Consumption-Based Indicators in Swedish Environmental Policy. 6508. Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, Stockholm.

Palm, V., Finnveden, G. and Wadeskog, A. (2006). Swedish experience using environmental accounts data for integrated product policy issues. Journal of Industrial Ecology, 10(3). 57–72. DOI:10.1162/jiec.2006.10.3.57.

Rosenbaum, R. K. et al. (2008). USEtox—the UNEP-SETAC toxicity model: recommended characterisation factors for human toxicity and freshwater ecotoxicity in life cycle impact assessment. International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 13(7). 532–46.

Toller, S., Carlsson, A., Wadeskog, A., Miliutenko, S. and Finnveden, G. (2013). Indicators for environmental monitoring of the Swedish building and real estate management sector. Building Research & Information, 41(2). 146–55. DOI:10.1080/09613218.2012.749747.