Thin-Film Photovoltaic Cells:
Health & Environmental Issues in Their Manufacture, Use & Disposal
V.M. Fthenakis and P.D. Moskowitz
The large-scale manufacture of thin-film photovoltaic cells may present health and safety hazards if adequate precautions are not taken. In this paper, we examine the hazards associated with producing and using Si, CdTe and CIS thin-film photovoltaic modules. We focus especially on the potential of workers in manufacturing facilities to be exposed to chronic, low levels of Cd. Pertinent regulations are reviewed and control options are presented which can minimize the risks to workers. Also, we investigate occupational safety hazards and the associated engineering and administrative options related to using pyrophoric silane in making amorphous silicon cells. Finally, recycling and disposal options for spent photovoltaic modules are discussed.
Last Modified: June 18, 2008