Tuesday, April 21, 2009

RoHS for Earth Week

Tomorrow is the big day, Earth Day, and we would be remiss in not celebrating the occasion in our own little way. It’s Diane here, greening it up this week with the rest of the J.W. Winco crew. And our timely topic this week is RoHS.

Maybe RoHS means no more than Roy Orbison High School to you, but to us, it’s something we deal with every day. That’s because engineers often need to know if the components they are considering spec’ing into their designs meet the requirements of the company that will sell the machine. And a lot of times, some of those requirements are environmental, and may involve RoHS.

The Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive, or RoHS, was adopted in 2003 by the European Union, and took effect on July 1, 2006. While it is sometimes called “The Lead-Free Directive,” RoHS actually restricts the use of six hazardous materials in the manufacture of various types of electronic and electrical equipment: lead, mercury, cadmium, Hexavalent chromium (Cr6+), Polybrominated biphenyls (PBB), and Polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE).

The restrictions of RoHS apply to the following categories of equipment:

Large and small household appliances
IT equipment
Telecommunications equipment
Consumer equipment
Lighting equipment—including light bulbs
Electronic and electrical tools
Toys, leisure, and sports equipment
Medical devices (currently under moratorium and exempt)
Monitoring and control instruments (currently under moratorium and exempt)
Automatic dispensers

While RoHS applies to countries in the European Union, other countries have adopted similar regulations, or are currently debating whether they should. Meanwhile, specific manufacturers may require RoHS compliance or other specific requirements concerning the use of hazardous materials.

When we launched our latest version of our Web site last year, we made a point of saving engineers some trouble by addressing RoHS compliance for each of our 1,200 series of included products. Compliant or sometimes-compliant items have an appropriate logo on the page.

For other materials requirements, our Technical Sales Associates are proficient at finding out whatever engineers need to know about the components we offer.

The whole business can be quite complicated. I mean, “Polybrominated diphenyl ether”? That’s a mouthful! But it’s all for a worthy cause: cutting down on toxic materials in order to make the world a healthier place for industrial workers, as well as all of us.

Have a happy Earth Day!

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