John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Fate and transport evaluation of potential leaching risks from cadmium telluride photovoltaics

Fate and transport analysis has been performed to evaluate potential exposures to cadmium (Cd) from cadmium telluride (CdTe) photovoltaics (PV) for rainwater leaching from broken modules in a commercial building scenario. Leaching from broken modules is modeled using the worst‐case scenario of total release of Cd, and residential screening levels are used to evaluate potential health impacts to on‐site workers and off‐site residents. A rooftop installation was considered rather than a ground‐mount installation because rainwater runoff is concentrated via building downspouts in a rooftop installation rather than being dispersed across large areas in a ground‐mount installation. Fate and transport of Cd from leachate to soil are modeled using equilibrium soil/soil‐water partitioning. Subsequent migration to ambient air as windblown dust is evaluated with a screening Gaussian plume dispersion model, and migration to groundwater is evaluated with a dilution‐attenuation factor approach. Exposure point concentrations in soil, air, and groundwater are one to six orders of magnitude below conservative (residential soil, residential air, drinking water) human health screening levels in both a California and southern Germany (Baden‐Württemberg) exposure scenario. Potential exposures to Cd from rainwater leaching of broken modules in a commercial building scenario are highly unlikely to pose a potential health risk to on‐site workers or off‐site residents. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. © 2012 SETAC

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