RoHS IX – Letter or spirit of the law? What IS the law anyway???

There was some discussion recently on the IPC lead-free group about banned substances being added intentionally but at levels still below the allowed limits.

As far as anyone could determine, the point of RoHS was to eliminate the use of lead, cadmium, chromium VI, mercury, & certain brominated fire retardants, or at least reduce it as much as possible. The limits of 0.01% by weight of cadmium & 0.1% by weight of everything else were supposed to be put in as a recognition that the real world is messy and accidental contamination in minute amounts can’t be predicted. So by that standard, intentional addition of any of the banned materials (which I am going to call Pb/CrVI/Hg/BFR/Cd because I am tired of typing out that whole list of stuff) would violate the spirit of RoHS.

But the RoHS act itself does not apparently say what the person’s intent has to be, just that there can’t be Pb/CrVI/Hg/BFR/Cd above the stated limits in homogeneous materials, except for certain exempt applications. So with a strict reading, addition of the banned materials does not violate the letter of the RoHS directive as long as the materials are still below the allowed limits.

Someone on the list pointed out that the End of Life Vehicle Directive (ELV) DOES say that intentional addition is not allowed AND it defines intentional addition – for instance, recycling materials from older cars is not considered intentional addition.

So this is yet another place where everyone will have to wait to see who goes before the courts with the first test case, while simultaneously trying to avoid being that first test case.

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