Health, Safety and Environmental Issues Relating to Cadmium Usage in Photovoltaic Energy Systems

    Research output: NRELTechnical Report


    This paper discusses the current technology base and hazards associated with two promising thin-film photovoltaic cells that contain cadmium compounds - cadmium telluride (CdTe) and copper indium deselenide (CuInSe2). More specifically, this paper summarized the toxicological information on cadmium(Cd) compounds; evaluates potential health, safety and environmental hazards associated with cadmiumusage in the photovoltaic industry; describes regulatory requirements associated with the use, handling and disposal of cadmium compounds; and lists management options to permit the safe and continued use of these materials. Handling of cadmium in photovoltaic production can present hazards to health, safety and the environment. Prior recognition of these hazards can allow device manufacturersand regulators to implement appropriate and readily available hazard management strategies. Hazards associated with product use (i.e., array fires) and disposal, remain controversial and partially unresolved. The most likely effects that could be expected would be those associated with chronic low-level exposures to cadmium wastes. Because of the general immobility of the cadmium present inthese devices and availability of environmental and bio-monitoring protocols, chronic hazards can be monitored and remediated if necessary.
    Original languageAmerican English
    Number of pages35
    StatePublished - 1990

    Bibliographical note

    Work performed by Solar Energy Research Institute, Golden, Colorado and Brookhaven National Laboratories, Upton, New York

    NREL Publication Number

    • NREL/TR-211-3621


    • cadmium compounds
    • hazard management
    • photovoltaics (PV)
    • public health


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