It will be enforced throughout the European community from 1st July 2006 with the ultimate aim of restricting material that is hazardous to human health and the environment; paired with the WEEE directive it will reduce occupational exposure during manufacture, disposal and recycling as well as reducing the pollution of landfills.
Although RoHS is a EU directive, manufactures outside Europe must also abide by this legislation if the equipment they produce is ultimately imported into a EU member state.
The directive restricts the use of six materials found in electrical and electronic products, which should be substituted by safe or safer materials. The restricted substances are detailed below:
- Lead (Used in Solder) 0.1%
- Hexavalent 0.1%
- PBDE/PBB (Used in PCB manufacture) 0.1%
- Chromium (Used in Electroplating process) 0.1%
- Mercury (Used in Sensors, SW and Relays) 0.1%
- Cadmium (Used in Resistor chips, Fuses, SW and Relays) 0.01%
Who does it affect?
The RoHS Directive does not differentiate between households or professional electrical and electronic equipment, so the RoHS Directive covers products for professional and domestic use.
The general rule is that any equipment that uses electricity as the primary power source, is designed for use with a voltage rating not exceeding 1000 volt for alternating current or 1500 volt for direct current and spare parts (this includes parts for repairs and reuse) for equipment put on the market from 1st July 2006 is affected by the legislation unless it falls under the list of exemptions.
The subject of RoHS exemption is a complex one as there are many thousands of individual components and product types covered by exemption as well as industry types.
Given the complexity of exemption qualification it would be foolhardy for any company involved with the manufacture or supply of electronic equipment to assume they are covered or could easily qualify for exemption.
Industries known not to be affected by or that have obtained exemption from this directive are spare parts for the repair, or to the reuse, of electrical and electronic equipment put on the market before 1 July 2006, military equipment or equipment that is specifically designed to be installed in airplanes, boats and other means of transport.