Taylor discusses a dark issue in the production of renewable energy technology. The work illuminates the issue of the lack of transparency in the production of photovoltaic (PV) solar panels and stresses that the production produces many toxic chemicals that were not produced by more expensive solar technology. Taylor stresses that the U.S. needs to take the lead in creating transparency in the production of more cost effective solar technology and the industry needs to self-regulate and come up with answers to the toxicity of its processes. Taylor suggests that the switch over to PV solar panel production occurred almost exclusively based on the desire to build systems that were more cost effective for consumers or even investors but that in rushing to production the industry failed to implement technology and account for the increase in toxic byproducts. Taylor contends that cost effective solar panels are paramount especially to individuals investing in personal use technology and to increase investment potential for larger scale operations but that the PV producing companies need to implement tougher standards and invest in research that could mitigate toxic waste byproducts. This work offers a good example of the potential risk associated with rushing to production for the wrong reasons. Though the companies answered an important call for less expensive solar technology they are doing so at a cost that needs to be resolved.
Traviss, N., Thelen, B., Ingalls, J., & Treadwell, M. (2010). Biodiesel vs. Diesel: A Pilot Study Comparing Exhaust Exposures for Employees at a Rural Municipal Facility. Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association (1995), 60(9), 1026-1033. doi:10.3155/1047-3222.214.171.1246.
Traviss, Thelen, Ingall, & Treadwell discuss the common switch from petroleum-based diesel to bio-deisel among many organizations and especially municipalities. The switch though fully supported by the public and the government needs to be addressed from a public health perspective. This work compares the exhaust exposures of municipal workers working with either petroleum or biodiesel use areas. The work measured particulate matter and other air toxins at a recycling center in a comparison between first petroleum diesel and then 20%-80% blend of soy-based biodiesel. This was then taken as a litmus to occupational exposure using standard methods for this conversion. The results indicate that the biodiesel blend significantly reduced particulate matter and formaldehyde gas in the air while volatile organic compounds showed variable changes between the two forms, with some being higher in the petroleum alone test sample and others being higher in the blend test sample. The study concludes that biodiesel overall produced far less risk through environmental exposure to known toxic matter for workers and supports the idea that such a transition is both useful and responsive to health and environmental concerns. The researchers also stress the need for further testing in this area including higher concentrations of biodiesel in the blend and possibly other feedstock derived biodiesel to determent potential health risk for individual workers.