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Input-Output Conference 2010

Environmental health effect of Australian consumption: combination of an economic MRIO model with a multiscale fate and exposure model of pollution

Olivier Jolliet, CÚdric Wannaz and Joe Lane


Spatialized emission inventory are available for close to 300 point sources and 100 substances in Australia. To use these data to prioritize possible actions, it is essential to understand the spatial distribution of intakes and health impacts. To mitigate impacts, it is also essential to relate these emissions to their ultimate cause, i.e. the consumption of goods and services in Australia.


We therefore aim to develop a model that covers the whole continuum of consumption-production-particulate emission-fate & exposure-impact. We therefore aim to combine for multiple regions in Australia an environmentally extended multi-regional economic Input-Output analysis with a multi-regional assessment of pollutant fate, exposure and human health impacts.

More specifically, we aim a) to parameterize for Australia Pangea - a multiscale model of fate and exposure that determines spatially distributed exposures b) to apply the model to analyze population intakes for emission sources across Australia, and c) to combine the emission source to impact model with the Australian economic MRIO to analyze the environmental health effect and burden of disease of Australian consumption.


We first build multi-scale multi-media grids refined around each source and high population density area. Concentrations and multi-pathways exposures are calculated for test substances (Figure 1). We then analyze overall intakes as well as intake fractions for four source-to-receptor patterns: outback Alice Springs, suburban Sydney, Sydney and an offshore platform NW from Australia.


Depending on source location, cumulated intake fractions of benzene vary from 2ppm in Alice Springs to 23 ppm at Sydney airport. An intake fraction of 1ppm means that 1mg is taken in by the overall population for each kg benzene emitted. For Alice Springs, 10% of the intake is local, 20% is at 2300 km - Sydney and Melbourne, the rest at more than 3000 km, in particular in highly populated Indonesia which is under dominant wind direction. For an emission 150km west of Sydney, 60% of the 5ppm taken in occurs in Sydney. This proportion rises to 90% for emission at Sydney airport. The offshore platform has most of its impact in Indonesia. In contrast, benzo[a]pyrene impacts are primarily associated to deposition on local fields and subsequent bioconcentration in food, with highest impacts in regions of high agriculture production intensity. Final analysis will relate consumption to resulting emissions, concentrations, intake and burden of disease.

Figure 1: Multiscale model grid determined as a function of emission intensity and population density. Benzene concentrations resulting from overall Australian emissions.


The multiscale approach models accurately spatial distribution of intake fraction while limiting calculation time. Prioritization schemes for intervention need to consider consumption, emission sources and exposed receptors to determine priorities for impact mitigation.

For further information please contact

Prof Manfred Lenzen
ISA, A28
The University of Sydney NSW 2006
+61 (0)2 9351-5985