Human Health Risk Assessment for Improper Landfill Disposal of End-of-Life CdTe Modules

Elaine Kupets, Garvin Heath

Research output: NRELPresentation


The present work is a continuation of the 2020 IEA PVPS Task 12 Human Health Risk Assessment Methods for PV Part 3: Module Disposal Risks. The 2020 report performed a human health risk assessment (HHRA) for disposal of a cadmium telluride (CdTe) PV module in an unlined landfill, focusing solely on risks from cadmium. This study extends the 2020 HHRA on CdTe PV, analyzing eleven constituent elements: Cd, Se, Te, Cu, Si, Cr(III), Mo, Sn, Zn, Ni, and Al. The present HHRA was performed through two methods: utilization of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (USEPA) Delisting Risk Assessment Software (DRAS V.4.0) on eight exposure pathways for cancer risk and non-cancer hazards; and comparison of exposure point concentrations to federal standards for groundwater, surface water, air, and soil exposure pathways. Cancer risks and non-cancer hazards posed by elemental leaching through all evaluated exposure pathways, using both methods, were found to be several orders of magnitude below USEPA health-protective thresholds. Cadmium exhibited both the highest risks and lowest uncertainty considering data availability on chemical content, leachate, and federal screening levels.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages16
StatePublished - 2023

Publication series

NamePresented at the 50th IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference, 11-16 June 2023, San Juan, Puerto Rico

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PR-6A20-86497


  • CdTe
  • disposal
  • exposure
  • health risk
  • landfill


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