Consumer Health: internalities of food in economics and I-eco-costs


Consumer health in TCA is about unhealthy components in food like pesticides. It are the so-called ‘internalities’ of products, which differ from the ‘externalities’  in E-LCA. Externalities of products is the damage to third parties; internalities is unintended damage to people who buy the products. See Fig. 6.4.
There are 5 important issues related to Fig. 6.4: (1) the emissions to air and soil are the so-called externalities in E-LCA: this indirect flow via air and soil/water is affecting consumers that are not benefitting from the direct product flow, (2) the direct flow together with the product are not dealt with in E-LCA (3) this direct flow with the food product, causing the (unexpected) internality, is an important issue in TCA, (4) the internality is relatively more important than the externalities, see Fig. 6.4b, except from tubers and roots (5) however, the internalities appears to be small (as will be shown below) as long as the strict governmental regulations are adhered to.

Figure 6.4a. The Flow of pesticides in the food chain

The fact that pesticides are an invisible threat, especially pollution via the air, makes the consumer extra alert (Hofmann, 2020). The importance of direct field measurements is underlined by the fact that spreading  of pesticides is a rather complex issue that is influenced by many variables, so that  theoretical calculations are inherently not very accurate (Fantke, Jolliet, 2016).
A special problem in calculations on pesticide flows is the decay time of the product (depending of many


Figure 6.4b. The importance of the internalities (‘crop’) in TCA, compared to the externalities (‘air’ and ‘soil’) in the common E-LCA; figure from (Fantke, Joliet 2016).