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Reviews on Environmental Health

Editor-in-Chief: Carpenter, David O. / Sly, Peter

Editorial Board Member: Brugge, Doug / Diaz-Barriga, Fernando / Edwards, John W. / Field, R.William / Hales, Simon / Horowitz, Michal / Maibach, H.I. / Shaw, Susan / Stein, Renato / Tao, Shu / Tchounwou, Paul B.

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2191-0308
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A cautionary approach in transitioning to ‘green’ energy technologies and practices is required

Puleng Matatiele
  • Toxicology Section, National Institute for Occupational Health, Johannesburg, South Africa
  • :
/ Mary Gulumian
  • Toxicology Section, National Institute for Occupational Health, Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Haematology and Molecular Medicine, School of Pathology, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Published Online: 2016-05-14 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/reveh-2016-0004

Abstract

Renewable energy technologies (wind turbines, solar cells, biofuels, etc.) are often referred to as ‘clean’ or ‘green’ energy sources, while jobs linked to the field of environmental protection and energy efficiency are referred to as ‘green’ jobs. The energy efficiency of clean technologies, which is likely to reduce and/or eliminate reliance on fossil fuels, is acknowledged. However, the potential contribution of green technologies and associated practices to ill health and environmental pollution resulting from consumption of energy and raw materials, generation of waste, and the negative impacts related to some life cycle phases of these technologies are discussed. Similarly, a point is made that the green jobs theme is mistakenly oversold because the employment opportunities generated by transitioning to green technologies are not necessarily safe and healthy jobs. Emphasis is put on identifying the hazards associated with these green designs, assessing the risks to the environment and worker health and safety, and either eliminating the hazards or minimizing the risks as essential elements to the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of green technologies. The perception that it is not always economically possible to consider all risk factors associated with renewable energy technologies at the beginning without hampering their implementation, especially in the poor developing countries, is dismissed. Instead, poor countries are encouraged to start implementing environmentally sound practices while transitioning to green technologies in line with their technological development and overall economic growth.

Keywords: green; hazards; health; jobs; pollution; renewable energy


Received: 2016-02-04

Accepted: 2016-04-08

Published Online: 2016-05-14

Published in Print: 2016-06-01


Citation Information: Reviews on Environmental Health. Volume 31, Issue 2, Pages 211–223, ISSN (Online) 2191-0308, ISSN (Print) 0048-7554, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/reveh-2016-0004, May 2016

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