What is RoHS anyway?

by Andy on February 25, 2008

Lead Free RoHS Compliant Marking TapeI’m sure many people have seen the term RoHS and aren’t really sure what it is or what it stands for. If you are unfamiliar with RoHS, read the brief overview below to learn about RoHS and why it’s important.

RoHS is short for Restriction of Hazardous Substances. RoHS started in the European Union and restricts the use of specific hazardous materials found in electronic products.

All electronic products sold in the European Union after July 1, 2006 must be free of lead (Pb), mercury (Hg), cadmium (Cd), hexavalent chromium (CrVI), polybrominated biphenyls (PBB) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE).

The reason these substances are banned is because they are hazardous to the environment, including landfills. Another reason for the ban is because of the potential hazard for those manufacturing or recycling electronic products that contain one or more of the above six substances.

Right now there isn’t a federal ban on the substances in the United States, but some states have banned several of the substances. For instance, in 2003, California passed the Electronic Waste Recycling Act which bans the sale of electronic products (after January 1, 2007) that contain more than the stated amounts of the following substances, .01% of cadmium, .01% of hexavalent chromium, .01% of lead and .01% of mercury.

As with most legislation, there are criticisms. One of those most common complaints is that some believe the product’s quality is compromised because of the material restrictions. The high cost to comply is another criticism, especially for small businesses.

If your state doesn’t already have a ban on the sale of electronics with hazardous substances, be on the lookout for a future change in the law.

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