Chemical Makeup of Panels
 

Solar panels may be an appealing choice for clean energy, but they harbor their share of toxic chemicals. The toxic chemicals are a problem at the beginning of a solar panel's life -- during its construction -- and at the end of its life when it is disposed of. These two intervals are times when the toxic chemicals can enter into the environment.

During manufacture and after the disposal of solar panels, they release hazardous chemicals including cadmium compounds, silicon tetrachloride, hexafluoroethane and lead.

The toxic chemicals in solar panels include cadmium telluride, copper indium selenide, cadmium gallium (di)selenide, copper indium gallium (di)selenide, hexafluoroethane, lead, and polyvinyl fluoride. Additionally, silicon tetrachloride, a byproduct of producing crystalline silicon, is highly toxic.

Cadmium Telluride

Cadmium telluride (CT) is a highly toxic chemical that is part of solar panels. In the journal, “Progress in Photovoltaics," it reported that male and female rats that received CT through ingestion did not gain weight as they normally should have. This lack of weight gain occurred at low, moderate and high doses. When inhaled, CT also prevented normal weight gain and caused lung inflammation and lung fibrosis, a hardening of lung tissue. From low to high doses of inhaled CT, the weight of the lungs increased. Moderate to high doses of inhaled CT proved lethal.

 

Copper Indium Selenide

The study of rats in “Progress in Photovoltaics” showed that ingestion of moderate to high doses of copper indium selenide (CIS) prevented weight gain in females but not males. Moderate to high doses of inhaled CIS increased the weight of a rat’s lungs and increased lung fibrosis. Lungs exposed to CIS produced high amounts of fluid. Another study of CIS on rats, reported in “Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology,” revealed that inhaling CIS caused rats to develop abnormal growths in their lungs.

Cadmium Indium Gallium (Di)selenide

Cadmium indium gallium (di)selenide (CIGS) is another chemical in solar panels that is toxic to lungs. The “Journal of Occupational Health” reported a study in which rats received doses of CIGS injected into the airway. Rats received CIGS three times a week for one week, and then researchers examined lung tissue until three weeks after that. The scientists used a low, moderate and high dose of CIGS. All doses resulted in lungs that had spots that were inflamed, meaning they were damaged. Lungs also had spots that produced excessive fluid. These spots worsened as time went on after the one week of exposure.

Silicon Tetrachloride

One of the toxic chemicals involved with solar panels is not what’s in the panels but is a byproduct of their production. Crystalline silicon is a key component of many solar panels. The production of crystalline silicon involves a byproduct called silicon tetrachloride. Silicon tetrachloride is highly toxic, killing plants and animals. Such environmental pollutants, which harm people, are a major problem for people in China and other countries. Those countries mass-produce “clean energy” solar panels but do not regulate how toxic waste is dumped into the environment. The country’s inhabitants often pay the price.

 

Solar Energy Firms Leave Waste Behind in China

 

Toxic chemicals

Many chemicals are used to make different types of photovoltaic cells. Here are some of the most common chemicals associated with solar panel manufacturing and their impacts.

Crystalline silicon (c-Si)

Lots of energy is used to generate the high temperatures necessary to make this material—silica ores must be melted at more than 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit before the purified silicon is allowed to crystallize. It’s the crystalline structure that gives c-Si the semiconductor properties that make it so valuable for PV cells and for computer chips, too.

Sawing c-Si into the thin wafers used in panels creates a significant amount of waste silicon dust, up to 50 percent of which is lost in the air and water used to rinse the wafers. The process of making crystalline silicon from silicon is also inefficient; as much as 80 percent of the raw silicon is lost in the process.

The manufacturing process also releases silicon tetrachloride, an extremely toxic substance that reacts violently with water, causes skin burns, and is a respiratory, skin and eye irritant. And then there’s sulfur hexafluoride—an extremely potent greenhouse gas, 23,000 times worse than CO2—which is used to clean the reactors used in silicon production. In developed countries, these extreme molecules are usually captured and reused in a closed-loop process, but that’s not always the case elsewhere. There are reports from China, for example, of silicon tetrachloride pollution from new PV cell factories that are springing up in response to the global demand for solar electricity.

Cadmium telluride (CdTe) thin film

Cadmium is a toxic, cancer-causing heavy metal. It’s nasty stuff, but expensive, too—and that means double the incentives to keep it under control and out of the air and water. Cadmium rinsed away during the production of CdTe films could potentially pollute water systems, but it is generally reclaimed and reused in other steps of the thin-film manufacturing process. Still, about one percent of the cadmium used as input is disposed of as waste. And there’s a risk that cadmium could be released from thin-film panels installed in homes in the event of a fire.

Copper indium selenide (CIS) and copper indium gallium (di)selenide (CIGS)

Hydrogen selenide, which is used in the manufacture of CIS, is toxic and dangerous even at very low concentrations. Manufacturers are developing new processes that avoid its use, or substitute it with solid selenium, which largely obviates this hazard. Another concern is that selenium dioxide can sometimes form at high temperatures during the manufacturing of these cells. It is a dangerous air pollutant, and can pose health risks to workers.

 
 
 

 
 
SO MANY REASONS WHY SOLAR FARMS DO NOT BELONG ON LONG ISLAND ESPECIALLY THE EAST END!
 
 

STOP THE SOLAR FARMS NOW!

VOTE ALL THOSE POLITICIANS
THAT ALLOW THIS TO HAPPEN OUT!

SAVE OUR GREEN SPACES!

FOLLOW THE MONEY TRAIL TO SEE WHICH POLITICIANS AND LAWYERS ARE BENEFITTING THE MOST

SAVE OUR WILDLIFE AND WATER BASIN!

THESE PEOPLE SHOULD BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR THIS LAND GRAB