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RoHS Compliance

RoHS, also known as Lead-Free, stands for Restriction of Hazardous Substances. RoHS, also known as Directive 2002/95/EC, originated in the European Union and 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. RoHS impacts the entire electronics industry and many electrical products as well. Is Your Facility RoHS Compliant for 2012?

Any business that sells applicable electrical or electronic products, sub-assemblies or components directly to RoHS countries, or sells to resellers, distributors or integrators that in turn sell products to these countries, is impacted if they utilize any of the restricted materials.

The RoHS Directive currently applies to products in Categories 1 through 7. Categories 8 and 9 are exempted from compliance.

FAQ

What is RoHS?
RoHS is the acronym for Restriction of Hazardous Substances. RoHS, also known as Directive 2002/95/EC, originated in the European Union and restricts the use of specific hazardous materials found in electrical and electronic products. All applicable products in the EU market after July 1, 2006 must pass RoHS compliance.

What are the restricted materials mandated under RoHS?
The substances banned under RoHS are lead (Pb), mercury (Hg), cadmium (Cd), hexavalent chromium (CrVI), polybrominated biphenyls (PBB) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE).

Why is RoHS compliance important?
The restricted materials are hazardous to the environment and pollute landfills, and are dangerous in terms of occupational exposure during manufacturing and recycling.

How are products tested for RoHS compliance?
Portable RoHS analyzers, also known as X-ray fluorescence or XRF metal analyzers, are used for screening and verification of RoHS compliance.

Which companies are affected by the RoHS Directive?
Any business that sells applicable electronic products, sub-assemblies or components directly to EU countries, or sells to resellers, distributors or integrators that in turn sell products to EU countries, is impacted if they utilize any of the restricted materials.

What about RoHS 2?
The proposed changes to the original RoHS Directive in RoHS2 are minor. No additional substances have been added to the six currently restricted. Inclusion of RoHS categories 8 (medical devices) and 9 (control and monitoring instruments) products in RoHS is now proposed, with the proposed dates for inclusion being 2012 or later.

Restricted Substances

RoHS specifies maximum levels for the following six restricted materials:

Lead (Pb): < 1000 ppm
Lead is commonly used in the electrical and electronics industry in solder, lead-acid batteries, electronic components, cable sheathing and in the glass of cathode-ray tubes.

Mercury (Hg): < 100 ppm
Mercury is widely used metals in the production of electrical and electronic appliances and is concentrated in batteries, switches and thermostats, and fluorescent lamps.

Cadmium (Cd): < 100 ppm
Cadmium is used in electronic equipment, car batteries, and pigments.

Hexavalent Chromium (Cr VI) < 1000 ppm
While some forms of chromium are non-toxic, Chromium VI can produce toxic effects.

Polybrominated Biphenyls (PBB): 1000 ppm
These are flame retardants found in electronic and electrical appliances. They have been found in indoor dust and air through evaporation from plastics.

Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDE): < 1000 ppm
These are also flame retardants found in electronic and electrical appliances. Combustion of printed wiring boards release toxic emissions.

RoHS Impacted & Exempted Categories

The RoHS Directive currently applies to products in Categories 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 10 as per Schedule 1 of the WEEE Directive. Categories 8 and 9 of the RoHS Directive are currently exempted from compliance.

The following product categories are impacted under the RoHS Directive:

Cat 1. Large household appliances: refrigerators, washers, stoves, air conditioners

Cat 2. Small household appliances: vacuum cleaners, hair dryers, coffee makers, irons

Cat 3. Computing & communications equipment: computers, printers, copiers, phones

Cat 4. Consumer electronics: TVs, DVD players, stereos, video cameras

Cat 5. Lighting: lamps, lighting fixtures, light bulbs

Cat 6. Power tools: drills, saws, nail guns, sprayers, lathes, trimmers, blowers

Cat 7. Toys and sports equipment: videogames, electric trains, treadmills

Cat 10. Automatic dispensers: vending machines, ATM machines

RoHS Testing

The most common tool used for RoHS compliance testing is theportable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analyzer. They come in stand-alone, bench-top and handheld formats. Portable, on-site XRF testing using a handheld XRF analyzer is usually performed first and focuses on the parts of a product with the highest risk of containing restricted substances.

Other RoHS testing methods involve using Fourier Transform Infra-red Spectroscopy (FTIR) testing and sometimes Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) testing as well.

Steps to Certification

The following steps are involved for RoHS certification.

Documentation Review: Review Bill of Materials, assembly drawings, Materials Declarations for each component and product, test reports and Conformance Certificates.

Audit: Inspect all manufacturing processes needed to meet RoHS compliance for the six restricted substances.

Testing: On-site portable XRF testing is done to determine values of the six restricted RoHS substances.

Certification: After successful audit, a RoHS certficate is issued.

What is WEEE?
WEEE is the acronym for Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment. WEEE, also known as Directive 2002/96/EC, mandates the treatment, recovery and recycling of electric and electronic equipment. All applicable products in the EU market after August 13, 2006 must pass WEEE compliance and carry the "Wheelie Bin" sticker. For the complete directive, see Directive 2002/96/EC of the European Parliament.

How are RoHS and WEE related?
WEEE compliance aims to encourage the design of electronic products with environmentally-safe recycling and recovery in mind. RoHS compliance dovetails into WEEE by reducing the amount of hazardous chemicals used in electronic manufacture.

Put another way, RoHS regulates the hazardous substances used in electrical and electronic equipment, while WEEE regulates the disposal of this same equipment.