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Why Use Lead Free?

Why Use Lead Free?

Most of us know that that lead in products is not only harmful to the environment but can potentially cause some health risks.  Therefore, unless leaded solder is necessary for your job or project, it is always safer to use lead-free solder. 

And, the good news is that there are many available lead-free solder variations available on the market which can make the transition that much easier.

The health and liability risks that are associated with lead have had some governments regulating its elimination from certain manufacturing processes. 

RoHS Legislation

In fact, it all started with the RoHS legislation that went into effect in 2006. The Directive initiated by the European Countries essentially restricted the use of lead, mercury and other potentially hazardous substances in products.

The RoHS Directive (which stands for Restriction of Hazardous Substances) restricts the use of hazardous materials, particularly found in electrical and electronic components. The directive even further aims to reduce the environmental impacts of waste and improve recyclability efforts.

WEEE Legislation Aims to Conserve Landfills and Boost recycling

In January 2003 the EU Council also adopted the “Directive of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment” (WEEE).  This directive requires producers of electrical and electronic equipment to finance the collection and disposal of their products at the end-of-life.  WEEE has specific target dates for recycling and recovery, with the first target being August 13, 2005. 

While the legislation has not taken effect yet in the United States, there could be a time in the very new future where lead-free is required for all applications.

Lead-Free Solder Does Not Have Any Lead

The most distinguishable benefit of lead-free solder is the absence of lead. The dangers of lead are fairly well known and have been proven to be a cumulative toxin that have many severe effects on the body (especially in young children).

Lead free solder was born out of the need to offer a healthier and safer alternative.

Some of the many benefits of lead-free solder are the following:

  • Higher tensile strength
  • It is easily repairable
  • It doesn’t have any negative environmental impact
  • It can be compatible with most projects
  • There isn’t the risk of getting lead poisoning

In what solder forms can lead-free alloys be produced?

Most lead-free alloys are available in all solder forms, including solder paste, cored wire solder, solid wire and solder bars.

Environmental benefits from using lead free solder

Another very important benefit of using lead free solder is that it does not harm the environment.  When lead is used in many processes, it eventually finds its way into the water, soil, and even air.  Leaded gasoline, in fact, had been responsible for air pollution in urban cities for decades before the introduction of unleaded fuel.

The metal also finds its way in lakes, rivers, and through surface runoff when it rains. Once the lead is in water bodies, it affects marine life and people living around these water forms.

Lead pipes also contaminate drinking water with high exposure, responsible for many brain and kidney problems, among other health problems.

Therefore, by switching to a lead free solder, you reduce all of the environmental and health risks that could occur with leaded solder. And, the good news is there are many lead-free solder products available that will work really well with your assembly, project or job.