Are Your PCBs ROHS Compliant?
Posted: Jun 20, 2014
Are Your PCBs ROHS Compliant? Toxic and Non-eco-friendly Products Are Still in Circulation
When electronic devices were first being developed, it was common practice to use components that were toxic because of efficiency standards and developmental costs. As technology has improved over the past decades, innovative implementations allowed for these electronic components to be created using non-toxic metals and other chemicals. Unfortunately, many of these non-eco-friendly products are still in circulation. Manufacturers that look to cut costs are still developing printed circuit boards and electronics using these volatile compounds.
What Kinds of Substances Are Toxic in PCB Development?
Some of the most abundant compounds on the planet can also be some of the most toxic to all life on Earth, including humans. In order for a PCB product to be compliant in the Restriction of Hazardous Substances, it is tested for dangerous levels of certain elements. These dangerous and potentially fatal materials are:
- Hexavalent chromium
- Polybrominated biphenyl
- Polybrominated diphenyl ether
Lead has been a common component in inventions for centuries. The sheer abundance of the material provided humans with a simple and easily refined method to create everything from plumping systems to paint and additives for gasoline. Unfortunately, this material is incredibly toxic to all organic life.
Exposure to high enough doses of mercury can cause hydrargyria or mercurialism. This substance can cause a variety of complications in the human body, including brain, kidney and lung damage. Mercury poisoning can manifest itself as sensory complications such as the loss of hearing, vision and the capability to speak.
Of the metals and compounds that were used in previous PCB developments, cadmium is among the most dangerous to human life. It is this toxicity that quantifies the substance with a much more strict allowable parts-per-million rating when being tested for RoHS compliance. Even the smallest traces can prove to be dangerous for those working with the material.
Used in a variety of industrial components, hexavalent chromium has been linked to increasing the risk of developing lung cancer. As it is used in many inks, plastics, pigments in dyes, anti-corrosive coatings and more, this substance can be nearby without your realizing the potential danger.
Once a prominent component in electronic devices, the RoHS Directive has deemed the compound a controlled substance. Prolonged exposure to this deadly element can cause damage to the central nervous system as well as other immunotoxicity disorders.
Polybrominated Diphenyl Ether
Although this compound is found in many areas unrelated to electronics, RoHS compliance standards place polybrominated diphenyl ether in the same categories as lead and mercury. According to the EPA, exposure to PBDEs can attribute to liver, thyroid and neurodevelopmental toxicity.
Although many areas have made it illegal to simply throw out electronics due to toxins and the content of precious minerals, many broken devices still wind up in a landfill. These toxins can poison water supplies and plant life, damaging the ecosystems of the planet. So, make sure you provide your projects with the capacity to be eco-friendly and RoHS-compliant boards.
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