What is RoHS?
RoHS is thee Directive on the Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment 2002/95/EC
(commonly referred to as the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive or RoHS) was adopted in February 2003 by the European Union. The
RoHS directive took effect on 1 July 2006, and is required to be enforced and become law in each member state. This directive restricts the use of
six 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 e-waste. In speech, it is often spelled out or pronounced [ɹɑs], [ɹɑʃ], [ɹoʊz], [ɹoʊ hɑz].
Electronic waste, "e-waste" or "Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment" ("WEEE") is a waste type consisting of any broken or unwanted electrical
or electronic appliance. It is a point of concern considering that many components of such equipment are considered toxic and are not
Biodegradation is the process by which organic substances are broken down by living organisms. The term is often used in relation to ecology,
waste management, environmental remediation (bioremediation) and to plastic materials, due to their long life span. Organic material can be
degraded aerobically, with oxygen, or anaerobically, without oxygen. A term related to biodegradation is biomineralisation, in which organic matter is
converted into minerals.
Biodegradable matter is generally organic material such as plant and animal matter and other substances originating from living organisms, or
artificial materials that are similar enough to plant and animal matter to be put to use by microorganisms. Some microorganisms have the
astonishing, naturally occurring, microbial catabolic diversity to degrade, transform or accumulate a huge range of compounds including
hydrocarbons (e.g. oil), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), pharmaceutical substances, radionuclides and
metals. Major methodological breakthroughs in microbial biodegradation have enabled detailed genomic, metagenomic, proteomic, bioinformatic
and other high-throughput analyses of environmentally relevant microorganisms providing unprecedented insights into key biodegradative pathways
and the ability of microorganisms to adapt to changing environmental conditions
Green PC's are good and you should support them to by buying RoHS compliant computer fans, computer power supplies, motherboards, video
graphics accelerators (Video Cards). Etc.
Find out more about RoHS and how it affects you. Acoustic PC supports RoHS and is always is encouraging all it's manufactures to comply with
RoHS Standards Weee.
1. What does RoHS stand for?
RoHS stands for - Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive
RoHS is European Union Directive 2002/95/EC on the Restriction of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment. It is
The Directive on the Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment 2002/95/EC (commonly
referred to as the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive or RoHS) was adopted in February 2003 by the European Union. The RoHS
directive took effect on 1 July 2006, and is required to be enforced and become law in each member state. This directive restricts the use of six
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 e-waste. In speech, it is often spelled out or
2. What hazardous substances are covered by RoHS?
RoHS restricts the use of lead (Pb), cadmium (Cd), mercury (Hg), hexavalent chromium (Cr6+), polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs) and
polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). Those restrictions are in addition to existing regulations, such as the 47 categories of dangerous
substances restricted for use in nearly every product by EU Directive 76/769/EEC and its numerous amendments.
3. What products are covered by RoHS?
The scope of RoHS is given in the EU WEEE Directive Annex IA, categories 1 -7 and 10. The following is a summary of covered product categories:
1. Large household appliances
2. Small household appliances
3. IT and telecommunications equipment
4. Consumer equipment
5. Lighting equipment
6. Electrical and electronic tools (except large-scale stationary and industrial tools)
7. Toys, leisure and sports equipment
10. Automatic dispensers
11. Computer components
Computer Components List: Motherboards, Video Crads, Power Supplies, Computer Fans, Etc.
Categories 8 and 9, which cover medical devices and measuring and control instruments, are exempt from RoHS requirements until which time the
EU Commission includes them (estimates are that this will occur in 2008 or 2009).
Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE) is defined as devices which are dependent on electric current or electromagnetic fields to work properly,
including that equipment used to generate, transfer, or measure such currents or fields. The definition of EEE for RoHS is limited to those devices
operating on a maximum 1000 Volts AC or 1500 Volts DC.
4. When do my products have to be compliant with RoHS?
The RoHS Directive went into effect on July 1, 2006. If you are selling products on the EU market, your products must have been RoHS/WEEE
compliant by that date.
5. What are Maximum Concentration Values (MCVs)?
Maximum Concentration Values (MCVs) are limits set by the European Commission for each RoHS-restricted substance in the Commission
Decision 2005/618/EC amending the RoHS Directive. MCV limits apply to each "homogeneous material" making up a product. Note that EU officials
have stated that RoHS is considered to be a ban on the listed substances, and that any intentional use of those substances is not allowed. Other
EU officials have stated that the term "intentional use" has no meaning in relation to RoHS. The MCVs are as follows:
0.1% by weight maximum for Pb, Hg, Cr6+, PBBs, and PBDEs
0.01% by weight maximum for Cd
6. What is a “homogeneous material”?
Unfortunately, there isn't an official definition, nor will there be apparently. The EU Commission says that only the European Court of Justice may
decide what the definition will be. The best advice we can give is to follow the definition(s) given in the EU Commission FAQ document or the UK DTI
draft RoHS regulations, because the definitions will not appear in any official document. Most important is the term “of like composition throughout”
from the chemical analysis standpoint since samples of mixed materials are rarely easily or accurately analyzed. Examples of “homogeneous
materials” are individual types of: plastics, ceramics, glass, metals, alloys, paper, board, resins, and coatings. The Commission further states that a
“homogeneous material” cannot be mechanically disjointed into different materials.
7. What does “mechanically disjointed” mean?
The term “mechanically disjointed” means that the materials can be, in principle, separated by mechanical actions. This
means that an insulated wire is considered as two homogeneous materials: the metal wire and the plastic insulating material.
Please note that the term is used as a part of the definition of homogeneous material. It is not an instruction or a limitation on
the sample preparation methods that can be used for testing. See number 19 below.
8. Are there any exemptions to RoHS?
Yes. The list of exemptions is growing all the time. Exemptions may be found in RoHS and the RoHS Directive Annex. Information on pending
exemptions may be found at the UK DTI website.
9. My company is based in the US. Why should we worry about RoHS?
If you sell electrical or electronic equipment to any member country of the European Union, or if you sell parts or materials to companies that then
sell their products on the EU market, your products are likely to be covered by RoHS. But even if your products aren't destined for the EU market, you
still may have something to worry about. First, laws such as Prop 65, SB 20 and SB 50 in California are already taking effect in the US, and countries
such as China, Japan, and Korea have also enacted similar legislation. Also, you may find that availability and reliability are issues, since the “old”
products containing restricted substances are becoming harder to find and more expensive to buy. For example, even though medical devices are
now exempt from RoHS, manufacturers may have problems getting printed circuit boards with the tried and true tin-lead solder. That means they will
have to test circuit boards with “lead-free” solders to make sure they will be as reliable as the “old” boards.
10. Where do I find information on RoHS? The following are good sources:
The United Kingdom Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) – they have the lead responsibility for RoHS, WEEE, ELV, and Packaging Directives in
the EU. Search for “DTI” and go to the environment department, or click on the link above.
DTI - Sustainable Development and Environment: Latest TAC Committee meeting notes
Europa is the website of the European Union. Information on RoHS is available on that site, but is not as easy to find as on the DTI site. Click on any
of the links below.
EUROPA - Environment
EUROPA - RoHS Directive
EUROPA - WEEE Directive
EUROPA - Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety
EEA - European Environment Agency - Home
SCADPlus: WASTE MANAGEMENT
The Electronics Industry Alliance (EIA) often has free information on RoHS, but you may have to join to get full access.
iNEMI is also a good source of free information.
AeA is a good source for RoHS seminars and other information. AeANET : Advancing the Business of Technology
11. My customer has sent me a “material declaration”; why does it ask for information on substances not covered by RoHS?
Material Declarations are prepared by electrical and electronic OEMs and companies throughout the supply chain. Rather than being specific to
RoHS, they are a compilation of all requirements concerning restricted substances world wide. Those requirements may be from regulations or they
may be something your customer wants or needs. Material Declarations also include elements or compounds that are not restricted but either may
become restricted or are needed by the company to assess other issues, such as residual value. For example, it is desirable to know the gold
content of a material even though gold is not restricted, since the material may have residual value depending upon its mass and gold content.
12. Do I need to test all my products for every item on the material declarations?
No. If you tried to do that, you would get a very big bill from a laboratory. First, you should try to obtain information on the concentration of RoHS and
other declarable substances in your materials from your suppliers or from the manufacturer of the materials. If that information is not available, you
have two real choices: 1) test each homogeneous material you use, but limit the testing to one set per unique material to avoid duplication; only test
the materials for substances that are likely to be present as additives or contaminants (your lab should be able to help with this); or 2) stop doing
business with that client. Note that the substances to be tested will vary from material to material; for example, it does not make sense to test steel
for brominated flame retardants, but it does make sense to test for them in plastic.
In every case, it is highly recommended that you have your legal representative(s) review the material declaration before and after you fill it out. These
material declarations may be used to place blame on you and/or your company in case of an infraction in the EU. Tell your legal representative(s)
that the UK (and possibly other EU member states) will allow “due diligence” as a defense for infractions. That means that third parties, such as
your company, may be prosecuted for infractions if your customer can show due diligence. Part of that due diligence will be based on the material
declarations received from suppliers.
13. We sell populated circuit boards. How do we demonstrate compliance with RoHS?
This is a difficult subject. The best and cheapest way is to get information on RoHS compliance for each material or component from your suppliers.
If this is not possible, you have a difficult task. You will have to get information for each “homogeneous material” comprising your populated circuit
board. It would be best to test each material BEFORE they get made into individual components. Barring that, supply enough individual parts to your
lab (including samples of solders) so they may be tested – it is very difficult, if not impossible, to test every homogeneous material on a populated
board for RoHS compliance. That is why ASTM International Committee F40 has proposed testing materials for compliance prior to their use in
component manufacture: it is easier, and it is less costly to the entire supply chain.
14. Why can’t we just grind components into a powder, then test for RoHS compliance?
Remember, RoHS compliance is based on each “homogeneous material” and not components or devices. If a component or populated circuit
board is ground up and tested, restricted substance concentrations in the homogeneous materials are diluted. If a lab grinds up a complex
component or entire product, they will not be able to state anything about RoHS compliance, since they will not know which material any restricted
substances found come from, or if the restricted substance comes from an exempt application.
The grinding equipment often used to grind up components is difficult, if not impossible, to clean. Plastic and low melting elements (e.g., lead) get
smeared onto the blades and other surfaces of the equipment. Also, abrasive samples such as populated circuit boards will abrade parts of the
equipment such as stainless steel and contaminate the sample with chromium and/or nickel or other elements.
For example, let’s say that a circuit board is ground up using the most common techniques. The first issue will be whether the ground sample has
been contaminated by past samples or the grinding equipment. Even if that was not an issue, let’s say the final ground sample is analyzed for
TOTAL lead, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, mercury, PBB, and PBDE. The analysis cannot separate exempt lead from non-exempt lead, exempt
cadmium from non-exempt cadmium, and so on. So which is the “good” lead and which is the “bad” lead? No one can tell. Besides, there is no way
to create a certified reference material to validate the results. So such testing is of little value. If a customer tells you to grind up your sample and you
tell us to grind up your sample, we cannot state compliance. Neither should you. Let the customer have the data and let them state conformance or
non-conformance based on the results.
15. What is being done to help companies comply with RoHS?
ASTM International has created Committee F40 on Declarable Substances in Materials. This Committee was formed to help industry develop the
standards and test methods necessary to comply with RoHS and other legislation. ASTM is working with the manufacturers, the US government and
industry trade associations on this vital task. If you would like to help, please feel free to get involved by going to www.astm.org.
16. What test methods are used to assess RoHS compliance?
Standard test methods are under development in some areas, but there are few yet that are directly applicable to compliance assessment. The EU
has left the methods for assessing compliance up to the Member States which have not given out much detail as to how they will test products for
compliance other than that hand held X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) seems to be popular despite severe limitations when applied to finished goods
testing. Meanwhile, many labs are adapting current tests to determine concentrations of RoHS substances in materials. Besides XRF, Inductively
Coupled Plasma Atomic Emission Spectrometry (ICP-AES), Cold Vapor Atomic Absorption Spectrometry (CVAAS), Direct Mercury Analysis (DMA), UV-
VIS, GC-MS, and other techniques are currently being used. Be aware, many labs are applying EPA and other environmental test methods to
Declarable Substance testing. These methods are rarely, if ever, adequate for properly analyzing finished goods such as metals and plastics.
See our article The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Regarding RoHS Testing (choosing a competent laboratory) PDF for more information.
17. What is “Due Diligence” defense?
Due diligence means that you can show that you did everything “a reasonable person would do” in order to comply with the law. It also means that
you may be able to show that an infraction was not due to your or your company’s actions; you may be able to show that an infraction was due to
someone else’s action or inaction. Material Declarations are used to show due diligence, since they are used to get statements of compliance from
suppliers. Once such a document is in the possession of a company, it may be possible to point to the document and state that there was no
reason to disbelieve the information given. Then, an infraction may be assigned to a third party as if they had committed it themselves. So anyone
making false, misleading, or incorrect statements on material declarations may be prosecuted as if they had committed the infraction.
18. How do I document my compliance efforts to show due diligence?
Keep your test results, Certificates of Analysis, and Material Declarations in a safe, accessible place. It is recommended that you keep both hard
copies and electronic copies. Make sure you keep records of everything you fill out for other companies. Also, it is important to document any
changes you made to your products, production method, or materials in order to comply with RoHS – this also helps show due diligence. Keep track
of costs associated with compliance as well.
19. Is plating a “homogeneous material”?
According to the EU Commission, plating and coatings are “homogeneous materials” as they differ in composition from the substrate material.
Keep in mind that in chemical analysis, platings and coatings are commonly removed from substrates by chemical means, and are not
“mechanically disjointed” from the substrate. This is not such a big problem technically, however, since there are quite a few chemical methods for
removing plating and coatings from surfaces.
One exception to the chemical removal of coatings from substrates is hexavalent chromium conversion coatings. Since hex chrome coatings vary in
mass over time due to exposure to the environment and because hexavalent chromium coatings are often very thin (on the order of 200
nanometers), determining the total coating mass on a chromated surface is difficult, if not impossible. Besides, there exist no certified reference
materials with which such a method could be evaluated, and it is unlikely that such reference materials will ever be produced. It is the standard
practice that hexavalent chromium coatings are determined in units of mass of hexavalent chromium per unit area (such as ug/cm2) instead of
weight percent. But the EU Commission has not backed away from their definition of hexavalent chromium conversion coatings as homogeneous
materials, nor have they changed their MCV units of weight percent. In order to provide measurements in units of weight percent, IMR has adopted
the practice of reporting the hexavalent chromium concentration as a percentage of the entire coating weight of the sample. For example, a steel
sample with a chromated zinc plating would have the hexavalent chromium concentration value calculated as a part of the entire zinc coating weight
since the chromate conversion coating on the surface can not be separated from the underlying zinc layer by any means.
20. Where in “old” electronic equipment is hexavalent chromium found?
Hexavalent chromium is used in two general applications in relation to electronic equipment: as a chromate conversion coating on metal surfaces to
act as a corrosion inhibitor, and as pigments in plastic and ink. Other possible applications in relation to electronic equipment are the use of
hexavalent chromium in the textile, leather, and glass industries. Note that the chromium found in a metal alloy such as stainless steel is not
considered to be in the hexavalent state, and it is not environmentally available; the exception to this statement is when high chromium steels are
welded, hexavalent chromium may be created and released in the fumes.
Pigment colors that may contain hexavalent chromium include red, yellow, orange, and green.
21. What are the steps my company should take toward demonstrating RoHS-compliance of our products?
The first step is education. It is very important to understand, as much as possible, what it means to be RoHS-compliant and what products are
affected by RoHS. One of the most important things to know is that the (proposed) basis of compliance is each “homogeneous material”; that
means that each material used to construct every part in every covered electrical and electronic product must comply with RoHS. It is also important
to know what is and is not exempt from RoHS. There are several ways to go about educating yourself and your company, including attending
seminars, hiring in a consultant for a seminar, and reading free information available on the internet (see links above).
The second step is awareness. Make sure that upper management is aware of RoHS and the other Materials Declarations regulations, when they
come into effect, why the company's products are affected, and what the potential impact on the company might be. Most people in the know about
RoHS will tell you that it is vital that leadership and support for a RoHS-compliance effort comes from upper management. RoHS-compliance can be
a costly and time-consuming endeavor, so upper management will have to be on board. RoHS-compliance can mean that your company will have to
go through big changes, including retooling, redesign, renumbering of part numbers, adjustment of purchasing practices, and editing of drawings
and other internal company documentation such as material specifications.
The third step is assessment of your product line. In a very real sense, this is risk assessment: you are trying to determine in which cases you know
you are compliant, in which cases you know you are not in compliance, and in which cases you do not know if you are compliant. Risk assessment
should be conducted with “due diligence” in mind, meaning that you should do what a reasonable person would do to ensure your products comply.
That usually means you have to be able to back up your claims of compliance with statements and/or data. The following mantra should be running
through your head: “What do we think, what do we know, what can we prove?”
The fourth step is to do a survey of your materials and parts suppliers. You should ask them if their products are RoHS-compliant and if they are; ask
them if they can supply either a statement to that effect or a certificate of analysis. If not, ask them if and when they expect to be compliant or if they
would be willing to get the necessary information together to support their product compliance. That may require them to do a survey of their
suppliers and/or test their products. You may want to test their products if the statements you receive are suspect.
The fifth step is to fill in the gaps in your product compliance. That may mean you will have to change suppliers to those who can demonstrate RoHS-
compliance, or you may have to test your remaining items for compliance. Make sure that any testing you have done is done by a competent
laboratory; the best choice is a materials testing laboratory with accreditation to ISO 17025. It is not recommended that you engage a laboratory
without the assurance that their results are trustworthy. A key to making such a judgment is to ask the laboratory if, based on the results of testing,
they will make a statement of RoHS-compliance. If they will not do so, you may as well be throwing your money away.
The sixth and last step is to organize all the information you have gathered to back up statements of compliance for each product. This information
should be kept available in case it is requested by your clients or by an enforcement authority. It is recommended that you keep hard copies in
addition to electronic copies of the information.
22. What is the difference between a PBDO and a PBDE?
There is no difference. These are acronyms which stand for different names of the same compounds. So PBDOs are restricted by RoHS, because
they are PBDEs.
23. Should energy dispersive XRF be used to determine RoHS compliance?
Energy Dispersive XRF, or EDXRF, is a quick and easy technique for measuring chemical compositions. IMR Test Labs employs this technique as a
screening tool and for full quantitative testing of truly homogenous materials. However, XRF has severe limitations when it comes to the analysis of
small components or samples with more than one material present. For example, a piece of steel can easily be analyzed for full compliance with
XRF, but a piece of plated steel can not. The X-rays used in XRF testing penetrate through the plating and into the substrate. The signal returned is a
mix of information from both the plating layer and the substrate. This introduces a lot of error into the analysis. If lead were to be present in the
plating at say 1500 ppm, XRF might read this as 500 ppm due to dilution of the signal from the plating with that from the substrate. Therefore a
potentially failing reading is masked as being compliant.
The other problem is that XRF looks at a fairly large area of material (depending on whether it is hand held or bench-top) which makes the analysis
of things like populated PC boards or small electronic components impossible. For example, the analysis of a typical chip capacitor might reveal the
presence of lead. However, there are exemptions for lead in the ceramic (capacitive) region of the device, but not in the solder terminations. XRF can
not differentiate between so-called “good” lead and “bad” lead. For these reasons, great care must be exercised when using XRF for Declarable
Substance testing to avoid the risk of falsely reporting something as compliant when it is not.
|Why not spare your hearing with Acoustic PC’s Quiet Computer Cooling and Soundproofing
Solutions. Acoustic PC Stocks Quiet Computer Parts. Quiet PC Fans, Quiet CPU Coolers, Quiet
Power Supply, Quiet Computer Cases, PC Sound Dampening insulation, Ant-vibration Noise
Reduction materials such as Silicone Fan Mounts, Sorbothane Feet for Ultra Low noise PC's. We
also sell Silent PC Hardware components and Gaming products such as Fanless Silent Video
cards, SSD Drives, Professional Gaming peripherals for serious Gamers. Audio products & more.