A reality check about solar panel waste and the effects on human health
(Inside Climate News, 12 Oct 2023) The coming surge in photovoltaic panel waste is tiny compared to other categories, and most health concerns about solar equipment are unfounded.
Having sat in many community hearings about solar power development, I am used to vivid descriptions of how photovoltaic panels might as well be dripping with harmful substances that will sicken people and livestock.
The concerns are pervasive, but almost completely separate from reality.
For example, one of the recurring issues raised against solar development is the presence of cadmium in photovoltaic panels. But researchers have shown that cadmium is present in only a small share of panels; it makes up 0.1 percent or less of the mass of the panels in which it’s present; and the form of cadmium sometimes used in panels is different and safer than the form that leads to health concerns.
Annick Anctil, an engineering professor at Michigan State University, knows this research because she’s done a lot of it herself. And she can see that there is a disconnect between what experts know and what the public worries about.