Occupational exposure to arsenic and cadmium in thin-film solar cell production

Andrea Spinazze, Andrea Cattaneo, Damiano Monticelli, Sandro Recchia, Sabrina Rovelli, Silvia Fustinoni, Domenico M. Cavallo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Workers involved in the production of Cd/As-based photovoltaic modules may be routinely or accidentally exposed to As-or Cd-containing inorganic compounds. Methods: Workers' exposure to As and Cd was investigated by environmental monitoring following a worst-case approach and biological monitoring from the preparation of the working facility to its decommissioning. Workplace surface contamination was also evaluated through wipe-test sampling. Results: The highest mean airborne concentrations were found during maintenance activities (As = 0.0068 g m3; Cd = 7.66 g m3) and laboratory simulations (As = 0.0075 g m3; Cd = 11.2 g m3). These types of operations were conducted for a limited time during a typical work shift and only in specifically suited containment areas, where the highest surface concentrations were also found (laboratory: As = 2.94 g m2, Cd = 167 g m2; powder containment booth: As = 4.35 g m2, Cd = 1500 g m2). The As and Cd urinary levels (Asu; Cdu) were not significantly different for exposed (Asu = 6.11 1.74 g l1; Cdu = 0.24 2.36 g g1 creatinine) and unexposed workers (Asu = 6.11 1.75 g l1; Cdu = 0.22 2.08 g g1 creatinine). Conclusion: Despite airborne arsenic and cadmium exposure well below the threshold limit value (TLV) when the operation is appropriately maintained in line, workers who are involved in various operations (maintenance, laboratory test) could potentially be at risk of significant exposure, well in excess of the TLV. Nevertheless, the biological monitoring data did not show significant occupationally related arsenic and cadmium intake in workers and no significant changes or differences in arsenic and cadmium urinary level among the exposed and unexposed workers were found.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)572-585
Number of pages14
JournalAnnals of Occupational Hygiene
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Biological Monitoring
  • Exposure Assessment
  • Local Exhaust Ventilation
  • Personal Protective Clothing
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Management
  • Surface Contamination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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