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How harmfull are soldering/flux fumes ?

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by iso9001, Apr 24, 2005.

  1. iso9001

    iso9001 New Member

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    Hi,

    I'm about to order new solder (for thru-hole and smt) and was wondering how harmfull the rosin core wire solder I'm using now is to my health ?

    I've got a thing on rosin flux and the wire is cored, everything I solder has smoke right in my face.

    Is there any lead from the solder in that smoke ?

    Would lead-free solder be better ?

    Is rosin flux a VOC ?

    I've read that No-Cleans are becoming standard but they don't wet as well as rosin core. And that water-soluable is a little trickier to remove and doesnt tin on the tip very well. Any solder recommendations from experience ?

    (Also, while we're making recommendations, I need a new solder station, not too expensive, but also not crap)

    Thanks
     
  2. Roboticinfo

    Roboticinfo New Member

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    No don't get lead free, it is more expensive and is not good for making solid connections.

    You could use a fan to blow away the smoke or you could use a filter but the cost for one today is $50.00 and a fan kind of just keep's it away from the face.

    Also solder can give you cancer and other stuff like Lung cancer and elec.
     
  3. bonxer

    bonxer New Member

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    I used to be freaked out about cancerous solder fumes. But then walking by all the smokers at the entrance to work/class, I noticed it isn't all that wonderful either. At least the harmful emissions I'm making at my desk will result in something useful. :wink:
     
  4. dave

    Dave New Member

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  5. JimB

    JimB Super Moderator Most Helpful Member

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    Solder fumes have a happy knack of going straight to you face for some reason.
    They are best avoided, but my personal opinion is that I would rather have solder fumes than cigarrete smoke.

    For lots of info about soldering hazards, go to www.hse.gov.uk and search for solder.

    JimB
     
  6. Nigel Goodwin

    Nigel Goodwin Super Moderator Most Helpful Member

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    I was part of a test a few years ago, by the UK Health and Safety Executive - they came and fitted me with a monitor to check the amount of fumes I was breathing in.

    I asked if their concerns were with the lead?, and apparently there are no concerns about the lead whilst soldering!. The tests were for the fumes from the flux, which 'may' cause asthma in a very tiny number of cases (so tiny it's not conclusive!). They did say that they hadn't been able to find a single asthma case in the TV service trade - I did think "perhaps they leave because the soldering upsets them" :lol:

    But, apparently, there are currently NO cancer concerns associated with soldering.

    I would also agree that 'proper' solder is better than lead free, and the older type flux is far better than the new stuff as well!.
     
  7. Roboticinfo

    Roboticinfo New Member

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    Hmm my old robot book's were wrong, that wierd anyway I have been fine breathing in solder fume's and I have been soldering for year's.

    Just recently I bought a filter and a small fan and no more solder in my face and no more solder smell.
     
  8. Dr.EM

    Dr.EM New Member

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    I use the lead free stuff, and say it works fine on PCB, but I had noticed when soldering things like lugs on plug sockets and other larger, non-copper things, the joints are poor, are can shatter. Main reason for using lead free was that it was reccomended for the iron, but I had taken into consideration the fact that it might be "safer", but clearly that makes little difference. So, we should avoid Rosin fluxes?
     
  9. stevez

    stevez Active Member

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    Ingestion, absorption or inhalation of lead can result in some rather nasty health effects but it might be that the fumes or smoke from the flux carries no lead with it. I am going to run the question by a couple of friends who are specialists in the area.

    Tin whiskers are said to be an undesired result of some lead free solders.
     
  10. Nigel Goodwin

    Nigel Goodwin Super Moderator Most Helpful Member

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    I wouldn't! - I'll keep using it as long as I can, the alternatives aren't anywhere near as good!.

    As I said before, the supposed health risk is a slight possibility of asthma, but I think the number of cases are too small to prove it - and that's only in production environments, where they are soldering 8 hours continuously.
     
  11. zachtheterrible

    zachtheterrible Active Member

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    thats precisely what i read in the '99 arrl handbook.

    Like Steve mentioned, i believe that your biggest concern when soldering is not actually the fumes, but the lead that gets on your hands. I read that in the ARRL handbook as well. I used to sit out at my bench and solder while eating lunch, so im probably going to die now :lol: . The moral of this story: Wash your hands after soldering!
     
  12. stevez

    stevez Active Member

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    A friend of mine is an industrial hygenist and had this to say about soldering, in response to my query about using lead solder in electronics fabrication and repair:

    "Generally, soldering operations do not result in temperatures high enough
    to generate metal fumes. I have looked in our database of studies on
    people working in electronics repairs using 40/60 solder and the airborne
    exposures are always very low. Given that information and the fact that
    you are probably not working with lead solder every day or for substantial
    time periods, your risk of any significant exposure is quite low. However,
    any exposure should be avoided, thus I would encourage you to blow the
    solder smoke away from you while you are working on items using a fan.
    Also, wash your hands after working in the area and avoid eating/drinking
    in the area you are working in."
     
  13. Dean Huster

    Dean Huster Well-Known Member

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    I've been soldering since I was 13 or 14. Electronics has been my hobby for 43 years and my profession for 35 years. I've spent 8+ hours a day soldering and/or desoldering, holding the solder in my hands, inhaling the fumes, holding the solder in my teeth (that ever-needed third hand), wrapping solder from spools up into hand-held coils, etc. And this isn't unusual. There are plenty of folks who've done it longer than that and live to be 90 and finally die in a car wreck. If it weren't for all the panty-waist Californians who try to ascribe harmful effects to distilled water and okra, we wouldn't be worrying about stuff like this.

    Dean
     
  14. Roboticinfo

    Roboticinfo New Member

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    Ya but still the fume's can get anoying when they keep hitting your face.
     
  15. pike

    pike Member

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    static attractance?? Well the best solution as mentioned previously is to use a desk fan to suck away the fumes.

    I have asthma and have had it before I even started electronics, i just did some major soldering and nope no ill effects. All good. From what i've heard the lead free solder is comprised of antimony and tin. As a result the melting point of this solder is far higher and you are more likely to damage semiconductors.
     
  16. Roboticinfo

    Roboticinfo New Member

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    If you have asthma, why do you smoke?

    well anyway it does not effect you in like 1 hour it take year's in order to get a small illness.
     
  17. pike

    pike Member

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    I dont smoke, and never will. I'm only 15!!
     
  18. Roboticinfo

    Roboticinfo New Member

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    ohh ok, I read your profile and it said a hardcore smoker so I assumed.

    Anyway ya it take's a long time to get a simple illness.
     
  19. Nigel Goodwin

    Nigel Goodwin Super Moderator Most Helpful Member

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    Re: reply

    I know a number of asthma sufferers who smoke, having asthma doesn't stop you being stupid :lol:
     
  20. Roboticinfo

    Roboticinfo New Member

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    I agree

    :D
     
  21. samcheetah

    samcheetah New Member

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    i also have a little bit of mild asthma (it only happens when the wheather is changing). but i dont have any problems with soldering fumes. its just that the fumes are irritating and come straight in the face.
     

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