In this category, environmental problems arise from the environmental impact of specific substances with high toxicity for human health and the functioning of ecosystems. The control of these materials and substances therefore is politically important (Steurer 1998). In the discourse about environmental problems, this category was, and for decision makers still is, the predominant environmental issue. To reduce the use of hazardous substances Steurer (1998) proposes policies such as bans or phase-out protocols.
Analyses of environmental impact are based on information provided by substance flow analysis (SFA), which focuses on single substances such as nitrogen or phosphorus and their environmental impacts. MFA, on the other side, offers an overall accounting framework to which SFA can be linked and through which SFA is thereby linked to the whole economic process.
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