Last September I wrote about our impending electronic Armageddon due to Europe's Restrictions On Hazardous Substances, or RoHS.
As part of RoHS Europe mandated the removal of lead from electronic components and solder, replacing them with lead-free solders, most of which have a very high tin content. The only problem with them is they have an unfortunate tendency to grow tin whiskers which, after some period of time, can cause failures in electronic circuits when they short them out. These problems don't manifest themselves quickly. Rather, it takes two or three years before the problems arise.
You may ask yourself, “If it's such a problem, then why haven't here been any mass failures of electronic gadgets?” The answer is simple: It's been less than two years since this requirement went into effect. Give it another year or so and the problem will become quite evident.
But wait, there's more!
Europe now wants to expand the scope of RoHS, adding more substances to its banned list.
Now before you get on your high horse, let me make something perfectly clear: I have no problem with removing hazardous substances from the electronics waste flow. My problem is with politicians and bureaucrats with little knowledge about such things making decisions about them without understanding the consequences of such actions. The example of lead in electronic solders is just one example of their blundering in order to push through feel-good laws. Before they start adding even more substances to their bans perhaps they should evaluate the effects of the bans already in place. I think they may find that they were too hasty in banning at least one substance.
Will the EU listen to industry concerns? Unlikely. Will they go forward with banning even more substances without regards to foreseeable but unfortunate consequences? Absolutely. The only problem is that it will be you and I picking up the tab for that shortsightedness. In fact, we already are.