Solar panels do not increase the risk of cancer or emit dangerous toxins, contrary to rumours.
Concerns about electromagnetic fields (EMFs) emitted by solar panels are unfounded as they produce low-frequency EMFs, significantly lower than common household appliances. Modern silicon cell-based solar panels used in Australia do not contain known carcinogenic chemicals like Cadmium telluride.
Health and safety standards are in place to minimize risks during the manufacturing and installation process, ensuring the safe handling and disposal of components. Scientific evidence supports the safety of solar panels, making them a reliable and sustainable source of energy.
Do solar panels cause cancer?
Over the years, there have been rumours that solar panels can cause cancer, or emit toxins as they can leak dangerous, carcinogenic toxins. However, this is not true.
What about electromagnetic fields through solar panels?
Cancer fears are frequently associated with worries about electromagnetic fields (EMFs) emitted by solar panels. Indeed, electrical appliances and power wires produce EMFs.
Composition and Operation: Solar panels utilise photovoltaic (PV) cells to convert sunlight into electricity. Importantly, the process is based on the interaction between sunlight and semiconductor material.
EMF Emissions: Solar panels emit extremely low-frequency (ELF) EMFs. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), ELF magnetic fields are classified as “possibly carcinogenic to humans,” but this is based on consistent statistical associations of higher-level exposures (such as those associated with certain jobs like near high voltage power lines or electrical substations) with a two-fold increase in childhood leukaemia (WHO, 2007). Nevertheless, the levels emitted by solar panels are far below those linked to any health effects.
While solar panels do produce low-frequency EMFs, they are substantially less than those produced by typical home appliances. Furthermore, numerous investigations have failed to find a clear and consistent connection between low-frequency EMF exposure and an increased risk of developing cancer.
Regulations and Standards: Solar panels adhere to international safety standards and guidelines, such as those by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).
Other inverter technologies: If microinverters or power optimisers are used, these can reduce the already low risk of RF radiation even further by reducing the power voltage on the roof. Therefore, this approach adds another layer of safety to the use of solar technology.
- Function: Inverters change DC electricity into AC electricity for household use.
- EMF emissions: Modern inverters are designed to minimise EMF emissions, and shielding and proper installation further reduce exposure.
- Location and installation: Distance acts as a natural barrier, and EMFs decrease rapidly with distance.
Solar panel cancer concerns
- Current understanding of EMFs and health: A comprehensive review by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) found no consistent evidence that non-ionising radiation from household appliances, including solar panels and inverters, increases the risk of cancer (NIEHS, 1999).
- International Guidelines: The International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) has set exposure limits for EMFs, and solar technology complies with these guidelines.
- Lack of Mechanism: Solar panels and inverters emit non-ionising radiation, which lacks the energy to damage DNA. The WHO and other organisations have emphasised that current evidence does not confirm the existence of any health consequences from exposure to low-level fields (WHO, 2007).
Are there any chemicals involved?
There have also been claims that solar panels are manufactured using known carcinogenic chemicals, including Cadmium telluride. However, this is not true for modern solar panels used on Australian roofs. Modern silicon cell-based solar panels do not use Cadmium telluride or any other carcinogenic or toxic substance. Solar panels are safe, as confirmed by many medical professionals, cancer bodies, foundations, etc.
Are there health and safety standards?
Solar panels themselves don’t release anything that can cause cancer. However, compounds that could be dangerous are used throughout the production process. Strong laws and industry standards are in place to reduce these dangers and safeguard both employees and the environment. Manufacturers of solar panels are expected to follow stringent regulations for the handling, disposal, and recycling of components like silicon, cadmium, and lead.
Solar panel manufacture and installation must adhere to health and safety regulations set forth by governments and regulatory organisations globally. These guidelines address issues concerning exposure limits, emissions, and occupational health. Manufacturers can guarantee the secure manufacturing and disposal of solar panels by adhering to these rules.
So do solar panels cause cancer?
Solar panels and inverters, in compliance with industry standards and regulations, do not emit harmful levels of EMFs. The scientific consensus supports their safety, as reflected in guidelines from the WHO, ICNIRP, and findings from the NIEHS. The commitment to ongoing research and regulation ensures their continued safety.
- World Health Organisation (WHO). “Extremely low-frequency fields.” Environmental Health Criteria, vol. 238, 2007.
- National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). “Electric and Magnetic Fields Associated with the Use of Electric Power.” NIEHS Working Group Report, 1999.
- International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP). “Guidelines for Limiting Exposure to Electromagnetic Fields.” Health Physics, vol. 118, no. 5, 2020.
Please note that scientific understanding evolves, and consequently, the interpretation of existing data can change over time. Therefore, it is always good to consult with a medical or scientific expert who is familiar with the latest research.
In conclusion, based on the available scientific evidence, solar panels do not emit anything that can cause cancer. The worries about solar panels’ potential link to cancer risk are generally unwarranted. Indeed, solar panels produce low-frequency EMFs that are far less than those given out by typical home appliances. The manufacturing process utilises some hazardous materials, but stringent guidelines and standards exist to safeguard the environment and the workforce.
As such, solar energy remains a practical and long-lasting source of power. When assessing the possible hazards and benefits connected with solar panel technology, it is crucial to rely on scientific data and correct information. By doing this, we can make wise choices and help the environment without worrying excessively about cancer risks.