solar panel recycling

Hazardous Chemicals in Solar Panels

Solar panels may be an attractive selection for clean energy, but they nurture their share of hazardous chemicals.  The risk of exposure to these chemicals is much less than the risk of exposure in nuclear power generation or even the hazards or environmental impact associated with hydroelectric dam power generation.  Modern solar panels are designed to be extremely resistant to the elements and even to impact should they be dropped or fall from a roof. Here at Ecotech Training we prefer to take on opponents of solar head on and don’t hide the low risk of any potential environmental impact or public health hazard.

When solar panels are not carefully disposed of, the toxic chemicals are at risk of leaching into anything nearby. Also throughout building and construction there exists a risk of leakage or spillage. These are all opportunities for harmful chemicals to contaminate the environment.  We advocate for the safe disposal or recycling of solar panels that are determined to contain hazardous materials. 

The harmful chemicals in photovoltaic panels include cadmium telluride, copper indium selenide, cadmium gallium (di) selenide, copper indium gallium (di) selenide, hexafluoroethane, and lead, as well as polyvinyl fluoride. Furthermore, silicon tetrachloride, a by-product of creating crystalline silicon, is highly harmful.

Cadmium Telluride

Cadmium telluride (CT) is a toxic chemical that has been widely used in solar panels. The journal Progress in Photovoltaics reported that male and female rats that obtained CT through consumption did not gain weight as they normally ought to have. This absence of weight gain took place at low, moderate, and high doses. When inhaled, CT additionally protected against normal weight gain and caused lung swelling as well as lung fibrosis, a hardening of lung tissue. From reduced to high dosages of breathed-in CT, the weight of the lungs enhanced. Moderate to high doses of breathed-in CT were confirmed lethal.

Copper Indium Selenide

Moderate to high doses of inhaled CIS boosted the weight of a rat’s lungs as well as increased lung fibrosis. Another research study of CIS on rats, reported in Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, disclosed that inhaling CIS caused rats to develop irregular growths in their lungs.

Cadmium Indium Gallium (DI) Selenide

Cadmium indium gallium (di) selenide (CIGS) is another chemical in solar panels that is poisonous to the lungs. The Journal of Occupational Health reported research in which rats received doses of CIGS infused into the respiratory tract. Rats obtained CIGS three times a week for one week, and then scientists checked out lung tissue up until three weeks after that. The researchers made use of a reduced, modest, and also a high dosage of CIGS. All dosages led to lungs that had spots that were swollen, suggesting they were harmed. Lung tissue had places that generated excessive liquid. These places intensified as time took place after the one week of direct exposure.

Silicon Tetrachloride

Among the harmful chemicals included with photovoltaic panels is something that’s not actually in the panels yet is a result of their production. Crystalline silicon is a crucial part of lots of solar panels. The manufacturing of crystalline silicon entails a by-product called silicon tetrachloride. Silicon tetrachloride is extremely toxic, killing plants as well as animals. Such environmental pollutants, which harm people, are a significant problem for individuals in China and also various other nations. Those nations manufacture “tidy energy” photovoltaic panels; however, they do not control how harmful waste is unloaded right into the setting. The nation’s residents frequently pay the cost through exposure.

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