Solar power ‘major culprit behind lead pollution in developing countries’

A new report has suggested that solar power is mainly responsible for lead emissions in the developing countries.

A study by Chris Cherry, assistant professor in civil and environmental engineering in University of Tennessee, Knoxville, discovered that solar power, which depends particularly on lead batteries, releases more than 2.4 million tons of lead pollution in China and India.

The researchers found that the countries have large amounts of lead leak into the environment from mining, smelting, battery manufacturing, and recycling — 33 percent in China and 22 percent in India.

Also, a large percentage of new solar power systems continues to be reliant on lead batteries for energy storage due to the inadequate power grid in these countries.

“Investments in environmental controls in the lead battery industry, along with improvements in battery take-back policies, are needed to complement deployment of solar power in these countries,” said Cherry.

“Without improvements, it is increasingly clear that the use of lead batteries will contribute to environmental contamination and lead poisoning among workers and children,” he added.

The study, co-authored with Perry Gottesfeld of Occupational Knowledge International (OK International), was published in the September issue of the journal Energy Policy.

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