Photovoltaic (PV) technology such as solar cells and devices convert solar energy directly into electricity. Compared to fossil fuels, solar energy is considered a key form of renewable energy in terms of reducing energy-related greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating climate change. To date, the development and improvement of PV technologies has received substantial attention; however, their potential environmental risks remain unknown. Therefore, this review focuses on the potential risks of leachates derived from solar cell devices. We collect scientific literature on toxicity and leaching potential, tabulate the existing data, and discuss related challenges. Insufficient toxicity and environmental risk information currently exists. However, it is known that lead (PbI2), tin (SnI2), cadmium, silicon, and copper, which are major ingredients in solar cells, are harmful to the ecosystem and human health if discharged from broken products in landfills or after environmental disasters. Several research directions and policy initiatives for minimizing the environmental risks of PV technology are suggested. This review contributes to both solar energy and environmental science research. Copyright © 2020 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.