European Union’s new RoHS toxic metals directive affects electronics manufacturers

Boston, MA— Manufacturers are now faced with taking full responsibility for reducing the levels of toxic metals in electronic products — Pb, Cd, Cr6+, Hg and certain Br-containing flame retardants (PBB and PBDE) — to ppm levels in new electrical and electronic equipment sold into the EU.

Don Sackett, Innov-X Systems president, notes: “Simple, proven tools are available for manufacturers and governments to test these materials. The Innov-X Portable Tube-based XRF Analyzer provides a fast, confident and non-destructive screening tool of electronic parts, components and assembled products. It is used for monitoring toxic metal levels, for compliance verification, for on-site QC, and for documented traceability.”

Toxic metals used in plastics as pigments, stabilizers, flame retardants and fillers are the focus of new EU regulations that have worldwide ramifications. The Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive designates maximum allowable levels of toxic metals in new electrical and electronic equipment sold into the EU. The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive requires separate collection and recycling in the EU of WEEE with Hg-containing components and plastics containing Br-flame retardant, as well as batteries and toner materials. Although other countries do not have the same specific directives, they are following suit. All electrical and electronic equipment manufacturers and distributors doing business internationally must comply with these EU Directives.

The EU Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive designates maximum allowable levels of Pb, Cd, Cr6+, Hg and certain Br-containing flame retardants (PBB and PBDE) in new electrical and electronic equipment. The actual allowable levels will follow a gradual decrease over time with a current goal of 100ppm total toxic metals in 2006. Although some market segments are exempt from this directive, such as protective military equipment, large-scale stationary industrial tools, and implanted medical equipment, it is unlikely that manufacturers will take a two-tier manufacturing approach. Consequently, the military, industrial, and medical equipment manufacturers will also experience the effects of this directive.

Innov-X Portable Tube-based XRF Metal Analyzers provide fast, confident and non-destructive screening of electronic parts, components and assembled products. “Our portable tube-based XRF analyzers monitor toxic metals at ppm levels for compliance verification, on-site QC, and documented traceability,” adds Sackett. “They analyze Pb, Hg, Cd, Cr6+ and Br to provide rapid and accurate quantitative analysis. Innov-X Portable Tube-based XRF Metal Analyzer also identifies PVC (Cl) and Sb- or P-based flame retardants in seconds.”


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