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Environ Sci Technol. 2007 Feb 1;41(3):1024-31.

A mixed-unit input-output model for environmental life-cycle assessment and material flow analysis.

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  • 1Green Design Institute, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213, USA.


Materials flow analysis models have traditionally been used to track the production, use, and consumption of materials. Economic input-output modeling has been used for environmental systems analysis, with a primary benefit being the capability to estimate direct and indirect economic and environmental impacts across the entire supply chain of production in an economy. We combine these two types of models to create a mixed-unit input-output model that is able to bettertrack economic transactions and material flows throughout the economy associated with changes in production. A 13 by 13 economic input-output direct requirements matrix developed by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis is augmented with material flow data derived from those published by the U.S. Geological Survey in the formulation of illustrative mixed-unit input-output models for lead and cadmium. The resulting model provides the capabilities of both material flow and input-output models, with detailed material tracking through entire supply chains in response to any monetary or material demand. Examples of these models are provided along with a discussion of uncertainty and extensions to these models.

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