Are you curious about whether soldering with a soldering iron and solder wire is poisonous? Do you wonder if you may be experiencing lead poisoning from working in a PCB factory?
In this article, we will explore the toxicity of solder and the potential harm it can cause to your body. We will also discuss the safety measures you can take to prevent exposure to harmful substances during soldering.
So, read on to find out more about the hazards of soldering and how to protect yourself while working with soldering equipment.
1. Is soldering iron and soldering tin poisonous?
Some internet users reported that they have been working with electric soldering irons in a PCB factory for a year and are experiencing discomfort in their bodies, including a slightly swollen abdomen. They wonder if solder is poisonous and if they may have lead poisoning.
The toxicity of solder depends on whether the lead solder wire used for soldering contains lead. Regular blood lead tests are necessary to ensure that levels do not exceed the standard.
If proper protection measures and raw material procurement standards are followed, soldering with tin typically does not cause significant harm. Currently, lead-free products are widely used.
Lead is a toxic substance, and excessive exposure can result in lead poisoning. Low-level exposure can affect the intelligence, nervous system, and reproductive system. The commonly used solder is a mixture of tin and lead, which has good conductivity and a low melting point. However, the toxicity of this solder mainly comes from lead. The lead smoke produced during soldering can cause lead poisoning.
Lead and its compounds are classified as hazardous substances and can affect the central nervous system and kidneys. Lead has also been confirmed to have toxic effects on the environment and organisms. Blood lead levels of 10 μg/dl or higher can cause biochemical effects, and long-term exposure to levels above 60-70 μg/dl can result in clinical lead poisoning.
It’s important to note that all metals can be toxic if consumed in excessive amounts, including solder. When soldering, smoke is produced that contains harmful elements, so wearing a mask while working is recommended. However, even with protection, there may still be some impact. Using lead-free solder wire is a safer option compared to those that contain lead.
2. Is lead-free solder toxic?
The material used for soldering with an electric soldering iron is solder wire, which typically consists of tin and other metals. The solder wire can be divided into two categories: lead and lead-free. With the implementation of the EU ROHS standard, more and more PCB welding factories are opting for lead-free and environmentally friendly options. Lead solder wire, which is not environmentally friendly, is being phased out and replaced. Currently, the main products in the market are lead-free solder paste, wire, and bars.
Soldering tin can be toxic due to its low melting point and the presence of lead (60% lead and 40% tin). Most soldering tin on the market is hollow and contains rosin, which releases a gas when melted during welding.
The gas released from the rosin is slightly toxic and has a bad odor. The main hazard associated with soldering tin is lead smoke, even in lead-free products which contain some amount of lead. The limit of lead smoke in GBZ2-2002 is low and toxic, so it requires protection. In Europe, the protection of workers and the environment during welding is enforced through legislation and protective measures must be taken.
In the ISO14000 standard, provisions are made for the treatment and protection of pollution generated during production. Lead was once a component of solder wire but now most enterprises use lead-free solder wire, which consists mainly of tin. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention measures tin dioxide, which is not classified as an occupational hazard.
Lead smoke in the lead-free process is unlikely to exceed the standard, but other hazards may exist, such as the hazardous properties of soldering flux (rosin substances). Employees can check the identification and classification of the tin used to ensure proper documentation and rectification by the enterprise, if necessary.
Lead accumulates in the body over time and causes damage to the immune and nervous systems. Lead-free solder wire is environmentally friendly, but it can still have negative effects on human health. Lead-free solder wire has less pollution than lead-containing solder wire, but it is not completely lead-free. The gases generated during soldering, such as rosin oil and zinc chloride, are toxic. Welding without lead is more difficult compared to using lead and tin.
3. How to prevent soldering iron and solder wire from being poisonous?
The PCB Factory should take precautions when soldering components using ROHS tin wire and an electric soldering iron with tin. This includes wearing gloves, masks or gas masks, ensuring proper ventilation in the workplace, maintaining a good exhaust system, cleaning up after work, and drinking milk to prevent lead toxicity in solder.
Take rest breaks: It is recommended to take a break of about 15 minutes for every hour of work to reduce fatigue, as the resistance is highest when you are tired.
- Reduce smoking and increase water intake to eliminate harmful substances absorbed during the day.
- Consuming mung bean soup or honey water before bedtime can help reduce fire and improve your mood, while mung beans and honey can also help eliminate a large amount of lead and radiation absorbed.
- Minimize exposure to radiation as much as possible, such as not using your mobile phone when possible.
- Use a bright soldering iron and consider using a PPD welding head to reduce harm to your body. This can also reduce the need for welding oil and rosin when the temperature is reached.
- When the soldering oil and tin smoke, try to turn your head to the side and hold your breath to reduce exposure.
- Use less water and more alcohol when brushing and consider using alcohol for a while, as the effect is similar.
- Wash your hands thoroughly after soldering.
- Take a bath before going to bed and aim for a consistent sleep schedule with adequate sleep. Adequate sleep can help discharge impurities from your body.
- Work with masks.