Substances released during a fire using solar panels are no more dangerous to health than ordinary fires

No more hazardous substances are released in a fire using solar panels than in a normal fire. However, sharp particles from solar cells can end up on Earth. In the meadow it can be harmful to grazing animals. As a precaution, RIVM recommends establishing national parts cleaning agreements.

There are more and more solar panels in buildings and businesses in the Netherlands. If such a building catches fire, solar panels can also burn out. RIVM has conducted experiments to check whether fire using solar panels has an impact on human and animal health.

The shards contain few harmful substances

The solar cells in solar panels are extremely thin and light. As a result, it easily breaks in the event of a fire. These pieces can be wound up at a considerable distance from the fire. In practice, this applies only to fires in large buildings. Weather conditions, such as wind strength and direction, also affect the extent of the cutting spread.

Fragments of solar cells contain very few harmful substances, such as lead. People and animals rarely come into contact with these harmful substances. Therefore, the risks of health damage are very small.

When the cutting ends up in the pasture, the grazing animals can swallow it. Sharp particles can damage the digestive system. Cuttings can also end up in vegetable gardens. If this happens, it is necessary to check the vegetables for this and remove the pieces, for example by washing them well.

Depending on the location and amount of the cut, it may be necessary to remove it as a precaution. Because of this precautionary principle, RIVM advises that national conventions be held on the subject.

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Smoke always contains harmful substances

Smoke always contains harmful substances. However, in practice, smoke from a building burning with solar panels is no more dangerous than smoke from a building without solar panels. That’s because solar panels are only a small part of the total fire.

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Megan Vasquez

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