Document Type


Date of Award

Fall 1-31-2009

Degree Name

Master of Science in Environmental Policy Studies - (M.S.)


Chemistry and Environmental Science

First Advisor

Daniel Watts

Second Advisor

Lisa Axe

Third Advisor

Zeyuan Qiu


Remediation of contaminated areas is often a resource-intensive activity that itself can create environmental burdens. Life cycle assessment (LCA) was used as a tool to examine the environmental impacts associated with remediation activities. A hypothetical contaminated site with five remediation alternatives was developed for this analysis. The results of Life cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA) indicated that greater site activity in terms of transportation, material and equipment use translated into higher environmental impacts.

A sensitivity analysis was performed to evaluate the environmental impacts further in different time horizons. The results showed that choice of time horizon can have a significant effect on the magnitude of impacts and the interpretation of results. Additionally, it was found that LCA presently has important limitations related to the characterization of certain emissions. It is concluded that LCA as a tool is insufficient for addressing sustainability completely; it should be supplemented with other approaches.