Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive Affects EU market

RoHSThe restriction of hazardous substances (RoHS) directive was implemented by the European Union (EU) on 1 July 2006. As a result of this new legislation, any company found selling electronic or electrical equipment (EEE) which contains a level of hazardous substances could face a court appearance or a certain level of legal enforcement.

The EU’s 2006 RoHS directive banned the use of six substances — lead (Pb), mercury (Hg), hexavalent chromium (Cr (VI)), cadmium (Cd), polybrominated biphenyl flame retardants (PBB), and polybrominated biphenyl ether flame retardants (PBDE)—in eight categories of electrical and electronic equipment. While these materials are not utterly banned, the concentration of these materials has to be less than 0.1% and in the case of cadmium, less than 0.01% by weight of homogeneous material.

RoHS, also known as Lead-Free Directive 2002/95/EC, stands for Restriction of Hazardous Substances. RoHS, originated in the European Union that restricts the use of six hazardous materials found in electrical and electronic products. All applicable products in the EU market after July 1, 2006 must pass RoHS compliance.  The entire electronics industry and many electrical products were affected by the RoHS compliance. RoHS directive was introduced as part of an initiative to reduce and eliminate the threat of toxic waste as well as make industrial hardware, machine components and other equipments safe for human use.

The RoHS Compliance directive applies to all manufacturers, resellers, importers, and exporters of products sold in the EU and certain other countries. For distributors, this may mean more customers will seek RoHS compliance data and documentation, many of whom did not have to worry about RoHS compliance in the past.

Since the introduction of RoHS legislation in Europe the nature of electronics manufacturing and soldering in particular has undergone a drastic change. RoHS compliance and lead free solder presents many new challenges to businesses involved in pcb manufacturing. No-one can deny the fact that lead free solder is healthier for everyone involved in pcb assembly, but unleaded solder does present certain problems. The researchers will have to discover new and effective materials for soldering electrical components. In the EU, however, some military and medical equipment are exempt from RoHS compliance.

Your business probably will not escape RoHS compliance just because your products don’t sell in the EU. There are other countries that have worked out their own version of RoHS to free the world of health hazard substances.

Finally, while RoHS compliance may only represent an initial step, it is still one of the most significant steps towards a safer, healthier and toxin free environment for us, our children and the coming generations.

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