Not only does solar energy help you save money, they can make for a healthier environment. So how can solar panels make your own life safer? Solar energy is the most natural form of energy on earth. Elementary science teaches us that all energy originates from, and depends upon, the constant and natural light provided by the sun. Proponents of solar energy often point out the benefits of this inexpensive and renewable energy source. We know that solar energy is cleaner than coal, it is healthier for our environment than nuclear power, and it is far more readily available than natural gas, oil and other types of fossil fuels. Yet few have considered that natural energy from solar power can actually help you create a healthier and safer living environment for you and your family.
Natural Gas and Asthma
An extensive study conducted by the Environmental Health Center, Dallas, focused on adults and children who lived in homes where natural gas appliances were used frequently. The study found that there was a dramatic difference in the number of people diagnosed with asthma and other lung conditions. In homes where gas stoves, dryers, furnaces, hot water tanks and other appliances were used, there was also an increase in the number of respiratory infection. Those who had asthma, and also lived in homes where natural gas was employed, were seven times more likely to need emergency room care, and were also much more likely to be hospitalized for their condition. Research also determined a link between gas furnace heat and the on-set of childhood asthma.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon monoxide poisoning is the number one cause of accidental poisoning death in the United States. Known as “the silent killer”, carbon monoxide is an invisible, lethal gas, which is created when fossil fuels are burned. Burning flames in the home, such as those which are present when gas furnaces or hot water heaters are used, can create a back-up of carbon monoxide. If this poison seeps into the home, it collects in human blood cells, quickly building to toxic levels. Sadly, there are hundreds of carbon monoxide poisoning deaths in the United States, every year.
The flame created when gas and other fossil fuels are used for heating, cooking and other household functions, release chemicals into the air in our homes. Besides carbon monoxide, the flames produce methane, radon and other radioactive materials, BTEX (a combination of chemicals known to be toxic to humans) formaldehyde, nitrogen dioxide and hundreds of other chemicals are released into the air when these fuels are burned. Scientists are beginning to link the presence of these chemicals in the air to many types of illness, including various cancers, lung disease, diseases which affect the immune system and a number of other health issues.
Other Household Pollution
In addition to toxic chemicals, burning fossil fuels release moisture into the air, in the form of water vapor. This water collects on surfaces, and can lead to an increased presence of mold and mildew, excess dust, increased amounts of dust mites in the home and a higher level of viruses and bacteria.
Very small leaks in gas lines may remain undetected for long periods of time. It is only as they grow larger, that they may be noticed. The dangers of leaking gas lines, whether they produce a small, undetected amount of gas in the home or an amount large enough to be detected by the unmistakable odor, pose many health and safety risks. Besides the risk of catastrophic loss due to fire, exposure to low levels of gas over time, is thought to affect the immune system, compromising the body's ability to fight off illness, and increasing the rate of infection.
Benefits of Solar Panels
Homes which employ solar panels for energy generation are far safer than homes that are powered by fossil fuels. Solar panels reduce the risk of fire, improve indoor air quality and lessen the occurrence of a variety of household pests and nuisances, such as dust, mold and mites. Those who live in homes where solar power is the main source of energy have fewer health complications: lower rates of asthma, respiratory illness and infection, and may also have stronger and healthier immune systems. Finally solar power eliminates the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and lessens the likelihood that radon and other gasses will be present in high levels in the home.
While there is still more research to be done regarding all of the possible long-term health consequences of using fossil fuels to heat, cook, and otherwise power residential environments, mounting evidence clearly demonstrates that the installation of solar panels does make your life safer and healthier.