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Is it safe to have solar panels on your roof?

The words "Are solar panels safe?" over an image of workers installing solar panels on the roof of a home.
PublishedFebruary 15, 2024
UpdatedMay 17, 2024
AuthorBrian ChurchWriterEditorCory O'Brien HeadshotCory O'BrienSenior Director - Growth Marketing
In this article
Solar Panel Health Side Effects
Solar Energy Risks and Benefits
Is Solar Safe?

Whether you are calculating the risk to your home or the risk to those who live within it – fear not – it is safe to have solar panels on your roof!

When installed professionally, using trained solar panel installers like Palmetto, solar panels do not damage your roof in any way that may put your home at risk of leaks, caving in, or any other physical safety hazard. However, if you are new to solar, you may still wonder, “Do solar panels affect human health?”

To answer this question, calm your nerves, and clear up today’s most common misconceptions, this article will detail the full effects of solar energy on human health before exploring the most prominent perceived dangers of solar panels on roofs.

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Solar Panel Health Side Effects

Before we get too far into the weeds regarding common solar safety misconceptions, let’s first focus on the positive health effects of solar panels. Compared to other electricity sources like coal and natural gas, solar energy has many health and environmental benefits.

While we could talk all day about the positive aspects of solar potential, the Department of Energy highlights the following human health benefits of solar energy adoption:

Improved Air Quality

When fossil fuels burn, they emit particulate matter (PM), which pollutes the air in communities near power plants. With solar electricity production replacing fossil fuels, air quality in the United States can improve significantly, with lowered population risks of respiratory issues like asthma and bronchitis.

Water Conservation

Although utility-scale solar power systems (solar farms) use a modest amount of water, solar power production requires significantly less water use than most other electricity resources. Especially in areas prone to droughts, water conservation is intrinsically linked to human health and longevity, and solar presents a significant opportunity to cut back.

Reduced Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Combating all of the human health consequences associated with climate change and adopting solar power and other renewable energy resources is immensely important in reducing the quantity of annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with electricity production in the US.

Solar Energy Risks and Benefits

Although solar technology has been in research, development, and use for over a century, the recent acceleration of solar power system adoption has led many people to question the health effects of solar panels in the last decade. Below, we’ll answer some of the most frequently asked questions on this subject.

Do solar panels cause cancer?

In short, no. Solar panels do not cause cancer, and no scientific evidence currently links the two.

In one the most extensive examinations on the subject, a study from the National Institute of Health found no associations between solar energy and mortality for brain/nervous system cancer, breast cancer, cancer of the cervix uteri, colon/rectum cancer, gallbladder cancer kidney/renal pelvis cancer, cancer of the larynx, melanoma of the skin, myeloma, oral cavity and pharynx, cancer of the pancreas, prostate cancer, stomach cancer, or thyroid cancers.

Due to the environmental benefits of pivoting away from fossil fuels, solar panel adoption may even indirectly reduce the risk of cancer for residents living and working in many communities across the US.

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Is there a risk of radiation from solar panels?

While generating electricity, solar panels emit a low-level electromagnetic field (EMF), which is technically a form of radiation. And while the term “radiation” can be alarming, solar panel EMFs are considered non-ionizing, safe, and not all that different from those produced by power lines, hair dryers, microwaves, TVs, radios, and WiFi routers.

Looking at over 30 years of research, the World Health Organization (WHO) concluded that “current evidence does not confirm the existence of any health consequences from exposure to low-level electromagnetic fields.” Knowing this, the low-level, harmless EMF radiation from solar energy systems should not prevent you from going solar.

Are solar panels toxic?

The vast majority of minerals in solar panels and batteries are non-toxic, except for a few heavy metals. However, these elements (like cadmium and silver) are not present in every type of solar panel, and even when they are, the toxic materials are safely contained within the panels and do not present a safety risk throughout decades of electricity generation.

Instead, the toxic materials found in some solar panels only potentially pose health and safety concerns when mishandled during the manufacturing or decommissioning process. While the majority of solar panel materials can be recycled, the careful and thoughtful development and disposal of toxic solar panel materials is critical to their overall environmental impact.

Read more: How Green Are Solar Panels?

Is Solar Safe?

In summary, solar panel systems are safe to have on your roof, both structurally and for the sake of your health. By going solar, you can help place a small piece of the puzzle currently being constructed to create a more sustainable world powered by clean energy.

  • In the long term, solar is a much better alternative source of energy to fossil fuels for human and environmental health.
  • No inherent health risks are associated with installing solar panels on your home.
  • Having a professional install your solar panels minimizes every possible safety risk of your home’s renewable energy upgrade.

If you are interested in a free consultation for solar panels on your home, Palmetto is here to help. Feel free to contact us today with questions, design your custom system, or explore all of our solar energy resources for homeowners.

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About the AuthorBrian ChurchWriter

Brian is a writer, NABCEP PV associate and outdoor enthusiast living in Denver, Colorado. As a freelancer, Brian has written hundreds of articles to help individuals, businesses and our planet benefit from solar power and sustainable energy systems.

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