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One of the major health concerns in the electronics industry is exposure to fumes generated in soldering and electronic assembly processes. The rosin (colophony) fume generated from the fluxes used in core solders and the liquid fluxes used in dip soldering is a known respiratory sensitiser, which is liable to cause occupational asthma, rhinitis and conjunctivitis. However, there are a number of other health risks encountered in the electronic industry.
Health Risk Exposures
Core solders most widely contain rosin together with an amine hydrohalide activator. Liquid fluxes consist of rosin and activators dissolved in a suitable solvent, which may be either flammable or highly flammable. Binary solder alloys are most commonly based upon tin and lead. Ternary alloys comprise tin and lead plus one of the following: silver, indium, cadmium, copper or antimony. Solder creams are mixtures of pre-alloyed solder powders and fluxes comprising rosin, resins, solvents, activators and viscosity control additives.
The health risks associated with soldering operations in the electronics industry:
The Legal Position
The use of hazardous chemicals - including respiratory sensitisers - in the workplace are subject to the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (as amended) (COSHH).
Under COSHH you must assess the risks to health arising from the use of hazardous substances at work and apply the 8 good principles which include:
Key Action Steps
HSE Guidance Note EH 40 "Workplace Exposure Limits" - (Note Revised annually)
Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Approved Code of Practice and Guidance (L5)
Solder Fume and you IND(G)248L (Single copies free, ISBN 0 7176 1351 8 for priced packs).
Health surveillance for occupational dermatitis
Controlling airborne contaminants at work: A guide to local exhaust ventilation HSG258
COSHH Essentials: www.coshh-essentials.org.uk
Aviva Risk Management Solutions Hardfacts:
6008 The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations
6010 COSHH Assessments
This document contains general information and guidance and is not and should not be relied on as specific advice. The document may not cover every risk, exposure or hazard that may arise and Aviva recommend that you obtain specific advice relevant to the circumstances. AVIVA accepts no responsibility or liability towards any person who may rely upon this document.
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