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For electricians and plumbers trained as recently as the 1970s, lead solder might have been the only option for joining pipes and connecting electronic components. In 1974, U.S. federal law began to target lead solder in plumbing, and by 1986, the Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments effectively banned it in all plumbing used for potable water.
Bans on lead solder came to the electronics industry in 2006, when a European Union (EU) directive banned its use in most consumer electronics devices, with a few limited exceptions. Although the directive only applied to devices sold in the EU, most businesses determined that producing separate products for sale in the EU was impractical.
As a result, these businesses changed the solder used throughout their production lines. Although products using lead solder can still be sold legally in the U.S., more and more products reaching U.S. markets use lead-free solder.Continue reading “Comparing lead vs. lead-free solder for PCBs”