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What is RoHS?

The RoHS Directive stands for "the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment". This Directive will ban beginning 1 July 2006, the placing on the EU market of new electrical and electronic equipment containing more than agreed levels of:

lead, 

cadmium, 

mercury, 

hexavalent chromium, 

polybrominated biphenyl (PBB) and 

polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants .

Manufacturers will need to understand the requirements of the RoHS Directive to ensure that their products, and their components, comply.


Enforcing RoHS

The National Weights and Measures Laboratory (NWML) has been awarded the contract to set up the UK’s national RoHS enforcement body. We will be delivering RoHS enforcement when the regulations are fully implemented. 

We have developed this website to provide you with information and help associated with RoHS compliance and enforcement. This includes a web version of the decision tree we intend to use, an FAQ section which we are continually updating as your enquiries come to us, and a list of other useful resources that are available to you in our links section.

If you are hosting events relating to RoHS enforcement and would like input from us, please contact us to discuss. Leading up to 1 July 2006 and further into the future, we would like to support as many targeted events in the EEE sector as we can. 

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DIRECTIVE 2002/95/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT


Polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs) are manufactured chemicals. They are added to the plastics used to make products like computer monitors, televisions, textiles, plastic foams, etc. to make them difficult to burn. PBBs can leave these plastics and find their way into the environment.

PBBs are usually colorless to off-white solids. PBBs are mixtures of brominated biphenyl compounds known as congeners.

In 1973 several thousand pounds of PBB were accidentally mixed with livestock feed that was later distributed to farms in W central Michigan. Some 1.5 million chickens, 30,000 cattle, 5,900 swine, and 1,470 sheep that became contaminated with PBB before the mistake was discovered had to be destroyed.

Later studies indicated that PBB had spread through the food chain; in one test of a sample of Michigan's residents, 97% of those tested had traces of PBB in fat tissue. Affected cattle suffered loss of appetite and weight loss (often leading to death), decreased milk production, and increased miscarriages.

Laboratory studies have linked PBB with liver cancer in rats and with low birth weight, liver damage, and weakened resistance to disease in human beings.

In the United States, manufacturing of PBBs was stopped in 1976.

PBBs are still around in the environment because they do not degrade easily or quickly.



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Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are added to materials to decrease the likelihood and intensity of fire in a wide variety of products, including vehicles, furniture, textiles, carpets, building materials, electronic circuit boards and cases... just about anywhere that plastics are used.

Some of the most common plastics to which PBDEs are added are high-impact polystyrene, polyurethane foam, wire and cable insulation, and electrical and electronic connectors. PBDEs can constitute quite a large percentage of the final product... up to 30%.

PBDEs work because they decompose at high temperature and liberate bromine atoms, which are effective at slowing and stopping the basic chemical reactions that drive oxygen-dependent fires.

PBDEs are mixed with polymers as plastics are being made. Because they do not bind chemically with the plastic, they leach continuously out of the final product. Thus given the ubiquity of plastic in the modern world, it is not surprising that PBDEs are being found in the environment.

 

PBDEs now contaminate human milk. Swedish research reveals that contamination levels in breast milk have increased more than 50-fold over the period 1972 to 1997 (Meironyté et al. 1998). PBDEs are also found in human fatty tissue and in human blood serum.

Roughly 50,000 metric tons of PBDEs are produced annually world-wide, with 40% of their use in North America.

Because PBDEs are both lipophilic (they concentrate in lipids, or fats) and extremely resistent to physical, chemical or biological degradation, they are highly persistent and bioaccumulative... classic POPs although not yet included in the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.

PBDEs are chemical similarity to dioxins and PCBs, although far less studied from a toxicological perspective. What is clear is that they are potent thyroid disruptors, 7 times more powerful than human thyroxine at binding with human transthyretin.

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Bibliography:

Agency for toxic substances and disease registry

Region 1, 1 Congress Street

Suite 1100 (HBT)

Boston, MA 02114-2023

http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/tfacts68.html

Aotco Metal Finishing Company

11 Suburban Park Drive

Billerica, MA 01821

http://www.aotco.com

Environmental Science & Technology

American Chemical Society

1155 16th St., N.W.

Washington, DC 20036

http://pubs.acs.org/subscribe/journals/esthag-w/2001/dec/science/kb_pbde.html

ESPI

1050 Benson Way

Ashland, Oregon 97520

http://www.espimetals.com/technicaldata.htm

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Metallurgical Consultants

931 N. State Road 434, Suite 1201 - #189

Altamonte Springs, FL 32714

http://www.materialsengineer.com/E-Alloying-Steels.htm

Precision Steel Warehouse, Inc.

3500 North Wolf Road | Franklin Park, IL 60131

North Carolina

2027 Gateway Blvd. | Charlotte, NC 28208-2741

http://www.precisionsteel.com/tech_data/chemical.asp?n_cat_id=1

Washington State Department of Health

101 Israel Road SE

Tumwater, WA 98501

Mail: PO BOX 47890

Olympia, Washington 98504-7890

http://www.doh.wa.gov/ehp/oehas/pbde/pbde.htm

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