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What is RoHS?

Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive is a policy that was formulated by European Union member countries to control the utilization of toxic materials in the manufacturing of electronics as well as electrical devices. The RoHS Directive has been effective since 2006. It mainly focuses on the control of six substances that include mercury, lead, cadmium, polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs), Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs) and Hexavalent chromium. Although the RoHS Directive was adopted by EU, countries from other continents are slowly adopting the directive.

Mercury is known to be found in UV lamps and light bulbs with high intensity and was once very common in batteries and cells. Lead is used for plating in printed circuit foil and electronic component wires and is common in rechargeable car batteries in lead-acid form. Cadmium was very common in the recent past in cell phones batteries and radio transceivers. PBBS and PBDEs are used in plastics as flame retardants and is also used in fabric coatings manufacturing while Hexavalent chromium is found in many electronic components. However, the directive does not restrict the usage of these substances in batteries and mercury-vapor light bulbs.

In the electrical field, the cost of production is significantly low. These low costs have resulted in people opting to buy new products to replace the old faulty ones. The reason for this habit is the fact that the cost of repair surpasses the price of a new product. Due to these challenges, authorities came up with strict directive measures to make sure that pollution is minimized. A majority of the restricted materials are used in the covering of electric wires and other electronic equipment.

These restricted materials mainly are used to cover large and small household appliances, Telecommunications and IT equipment, electrical and electronic tools. Also, toys, sports equipment, automatic dispensers, medical devices and lighting equipment are affected by this directive. Though the cost of compliance with these directives can be huge, the authorities have set heavy penalties to be imposed on manufactured who do not comply. Technological advancements have led to increased use of products manufactured using these toxic materials. Thus, the need to restrict their use to reduce toxic waste resulted in the inception of these directives.

Restriction of Hazardous Substances directive has assisted in the reduction of damage to people's health and the environment. This directive is a welcomed relief to the developing countries since most of these e-waste ends up in these regions. Additionally, the use of toxic-free material, for example, lead-free solders and components has provided prompt health benefits to the workers in electronics industry. With the health of workers well catered for, their productivity at the workplaces increases.

Many of these toxic materials are used in the manufacture of many different products utilized by a majority of companies and households. Therefore, reducing and eliminating the utilization of these poisonous materials overt instances of poisoning to the environment and human health. For companies to achieve RoHS compliance, all employees should be adequately trained in proper regulations and correct testing for RoHS controlled substances. With the health dangers associated with these restricted materials, authorities have made sure that all manufacturers comply with these directives.

Some of the health effects associated with the toxic materials like lead and mercury may be as severe as different forms of cancer. The wastes also affect the ecosystems where they are deposited in the landfills. Since all these products are used by many people, reduced toxic content in the materials used to manufacture them results in reduced instances of health hazards. Also, when safe e-waste is deposited in the landfills, it does not affect the ecosystem around the dumping site.