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I was wondering the safety of using non-RoHS parts for hobby projects. I already use non-leaded solder, but some of the parts I have are not RoHS compliant. How much would I, and my family, be exposed to lead for parts like resistors, if I were to handle them? How much lead is actually in these parts that I would be exposed to? Or are parts marked RoHS compliant to indicate they are able to withstand the higher heat necessary for non-leaded solder?

Thanks!

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    \$\begingroup\$ If it was extremely hazardous, there would have been a lot of dead EEs in the 20th century, myself included. Avoid/reduce where possible, minimise or exhaust soldering fumes, keep them out of your food, and out of landfill (i.e. your grandchildren's food). IMO, use them but recognise you can't sell them. When done, take them to waste recycling who ought to know how to handle pre-ROHS. \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Drummond Oct 5 '19 at 13:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ My understand is that the main rational behind RoHS is reducing hazards associated with electronics production at industrial scale and e-Waste. During use, even in soldering, the hazardous elements, such as lead, cadmium, halogens, are relatively stable, and mostly stay inside. As long as you use common sense (e.g. always wash hands after work, don't eat or drink at your workbench, etc), you should be fine. The main health hazard is not non-RoHS parts, but the flux and its solder smoke. Ventilation is needed, a N95 mask is recommended for extended soldering. \$\endgroup\$ – 比尔盖子 Oct 5 '19 at 14:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThePhoton: if you want to write a comment to someone with a name you can't type, just select their name in browser and copy/paste. E.g.: 比尔盖子 \$\endgroup\$ – Peter Duniho Oct 6 '19 at 0:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ I have been using non-RoHS parts for 40 years, and it hasn't done me any harm. See? (Joke alert.) \$\endgroup\$ – JRE Oct 6 '19 at 14:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PeterDuniho, I'd do that on desktop, but wasn't able to select the username in the Android app. \$\endgroup\$ – The Photon Oct 6 '19 at 16:02
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It's good practice to avoid eating electronic components.

It's also good practice to wash your hands after handling electronic components, or anything for that matter, before handling food that you, or your family, are going to eat.

As long as you follow those two good practices, there is essentially no health difference to you and your family whether your components RoHS or not, or whether you're using lead-bearing solder or not.

As a number of comments have pointed out, don't breathe the fumes from soldering. It's not the metals, it's the burning flux that matters. Depending on how much soldering you do, solutions from a fume extractor to a fume mask may work. I do so little soldering that I avoid breathing in the fumes by breathing out slowly and continuously while making each joint. This stops me ingesting the hot concentrated smoke from the iron, but doesn't protect me from any cold, diluted fumes in my ventilated room. I'm not recommending this method to anybody else, just saying what I do.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Keep them away from small children, they will chew on almost anything. \$\endgroup\$ – Mattman944 Oct 5 '19 at 14:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ There's a small amount of metals being tossed around in fumes, but as long as you don't solder for hours a day every day, you should be fine. After that, there's "increased risk" to a couple of unfriendly diseases, but nobody knows exactly how much. \$\endgroup\$ – Mast Oct 6 '19 at 8:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ As usual, it's worth pointing out that the smoke from soldering is bad for your health, and ventilation/filtration is important. The smoke is from the burning flux, and it contains virtually no lead, but it's still unhealthy stuff. \$\endgroup\$ – marcelm Oct 6 '19 at 13:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ Scientific comment about eating 100g of lead. \$\endgroup\$ – Nick Alexeev Oct 6 '19 at 15:45
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RoHS and lead-free electronics are more about preventing the lead going into waste and/or in the environment and then in the water sources and/or the food chain.

A properly disposed off (i.e. recycled) electronics is safe with any lead content. Lead costs money and generally will be extracted from the waste along with other materials. (And recyclers generally expect to find lead there, because RoHS is not that old.)

As for the soldering itself - lead does not evaporate that much from the melted solder. It is either flux-covered or, if you are not good at soldering, oxide-covered. Tin and lead oxides are even less volatille.

Hey, we survived even the leaded gasoline for decades. I am not going to say there were no problems, but the lead levels in the air were nowhere near anything you can evaporate with the soldering equipment.

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