Methodology of metal criticality determination

Environ Sci Technol. 2012 Jan 17;46(2):1063-70. doi: 10.1021/es203534z. Epub 2012 Jan 6.


A comprehensive methodology has been created to quantify the degree of criticality of the metals of the periodic table. In this paper, we present and discuss the methodology, which is comprised of three dimensions: supply risk, environmental implications, and vulnerability to supply restriction. Supply risk differs with the time scale (medium or long), and at its more complex involves several components, themselves composed of a number of distinct indicators drawn from readily available peer-reviewed indexes and public information. Vulnerability to supply restriction differs with the organizational level (i.e., global, national, and corporate). The criticality methodology, an enhancement of a United States National Research Council template, is designed to help corporate, national, and global stakeholders conduct risk evaluation and to inform resource utilization and strategic decision-making. Although we believe our methodological choices lead to the most robust results, the framework has been constructed to permit flexibility by the user. Specific indicators can be deleted or added as desired and weighted as the user deems appropriate. The value of each indicator will evolve over time, and our future research will focus on this evolution. The methodology has proven to be sufficiently robust as to make it applicable across the entire spectrum of metals and organizational levels and provides a structural approach that reflects the multifaceted factors influencing the availability of metals in the 21st century.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Commerce*
  • Environmental Pollutants*
  • Industry / economics
  • Internationality
  • Metals / economics*
  • Metals / supply & distribution*
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Politics


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Metals