The Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS)

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The Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) adopted by the European Union is short for Directive on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment.

The RoHS 1 directive took effect on 1 July 2006. It is required to be enforced and became a law in each member state. This directive restricts (with some exceptions) the use of particular hazardous materials in the manufacture of various types of electronic and electrical equipment. It is closely linked with the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE) 2002/96/EC which sets collection, recycling and recovery targets for electrical goods and is part of a legislative initiative to solve the problem of huge amounts of toxic electronic waste.

RoHS restricted substances have been used in a broad array of consumer electronics products. Examples of components that have contained lead include:

  • paints and pigments
  • PVC (vinyl) cables as a stabiliser (e.g., power cords, USB cables)
  • solders
  • printed circuit board finishes, leads, internal and external interconnects
  • glass in television and photographic products (e.g., CRT television screens and camera lenses)
  • metal parts
  • lamps and bulbs
  • batteries
  • integrated circuits or microchips

RoHS is not the only environmental standard of which electronic product developers should be aware. Manufacturers will find that it is cheaper to have only a single bill of materials for a product that is distributed worldwide, instead of customising the product to fit each country's specific environmental laws. Therefore, they develop their own standards, which allow only the strictest of all allowable substances.

To learn more about RoHS, please check out the following links: