Metal halide perovskite solar cells (PSCs) have gained extensive attention in the field of solar photovoltaic technology over the past few years. Despite being a remarkable alternative to fossil fuels, solar cells may have detrimental effects on the environment and human health owing to the use of toxic materials during manufacturing. Although modern metal-halide-based PSCs are stable and have encapsulation to prevent the release of potentially toxic materials into the environment, their destruction due to strong winds, hail, snow, landslides, fires, or waste disposal can result in the exposure of these materials to the environment. This may lead to the contamination of soil and groundwater, and uptake of potentially toxic elements by plants, subsequently affecting humans and other living organisms via food chain contamination. Despite worldwide concern, the environmental and ecotoxicological impacts of metal-halide-based PSCs have not been comprehensively surveyed. This review summarizes and critically evaluates the current status of metal-halide-based PSC production and its impact on environmental sustainability, food security, and human health. Furthermore, safe handling and disposal methods for the waste generated from metal-halide-based PSCs are proposed, with a focus on recycling and reuse. Although some studies have suggested that the amount of lead released from metal halide PSCs is far below the maximum permissible levels in most soils, a clear conclusion cannot be reached until real contamination scenarios are assessed under field conditions. Precautions must be taken to minimize environmental contamination throughout the lifecycle of PSCs until nontoxic and similarly performing alternative solar photovoltaic products are developed.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) grant funded by the Korean government ( MSIT ; No. 2021R1A2C2011734 ); and the Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF), funded by the Ministry of Education ( NRF-2021R1A6A1A10045235 ).
- Electronic waste
- Soil pollution
- UN SDGs
- Water pollution
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Environmental Science