Life cycle assessment of a typical lead smelting process in China

Wenyan GAO, Kaikai WU, Chuan WU, Hongren CHEN, Wai Chin LI, Shengguo XUE

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The production of lead smelting in China has led to dangerous environmental contamination, which poses a continuous threat to human health and the ecosystem. To evaluate the specific environmental effects of lead smelting, a life cycle assessment (LCA) was conducted using Simapro 9.0 software in this study. A typical industrial area dominated by the lead smelting industry was chosen as the field data source, and more than 90% of the lead escape routes were found to produce water-quenched slag and zinc hypoxide during fuming. Furthermore, this work clarified the fates of the associated element elements and the key nodes of pollution. In addition, the ReCiPe H method was used to calculate normalized results with uncertainty information, revealing that marine ecotoxicity had the most significant impact, followed sequentially by freshwater ecotoxicity, human toxicity, human noncarcinogenicity, and terrestrial ecotoxicity. The processing plant played a significant role in environmental contamination according to a contribution analysis. Specifically, the purchased crude lead and the concentrated crude lead should be given close attention because they made the largest contributions to the pollution of each environment. According to a sensitivity analysis, improving the smelting efficiencies of heavy metals during smelting and reducing the direct discharge of industrial waste could effectively solve environmental problems. Copyright © 2023 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Article number137796
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Early online dateJun 2023
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023


Gao, W., Wu, K., Wu, C., Chen, H., Li, W. C., & Xue, S. (2023). Life cycle assessment of a typical lead smelting process in China. Journal of Cleaner Production, 415, Article 137796.


  • Lead smelting
  • Material flow analysis
  • Life cycle assessment
  • Environmental impact


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