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What is RoHS Compliance and do I need to worry about It?

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If you want to engineer, design, and sell products to a worldwide audience, particularly products with electronic content, then you need to keep regulations in mind. Almost every country has some limits on the materials or parts you can use if you want to sell within their borders. But let’s say you just want to sell your products in the U.S. Do you still need to worry about things like RoHS regulations in Europe?

The answer is probably yes. And here’s why.

What is RoHS?

RoHS, or Restriction of Hazardous Substances, is a 2006 directive from the European Union (EU), that restricts the sale of electrical or electronic products within the EU that use or contain any of 10 different hazardous substances.

The goal of the directive is to reduce these particular metals and chemicals from entering the waste stream, where they can cause environmental problems. The 10 substances are:

  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Cadmium
  • Hexavalent Chromium
  • Polybrominated Biphenyls
  • Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers
  • Di (2-ethylhexyl) Phthalate
  • Benzyl Butyl Phthalate
  • Dibutyl Phthalate
  • Diisobutyl Phthalate

The individual products or systems that may contain these substances include things like household appliances, computers, medical devices, and others. The RoHS directive covers products that may be sold by you, re-sold by someone else, or sold by a distributor. If your products contain these substances in amounts greater than what is established by the directive, their sales may be prohibited. The RoHS directive is also considering adding additional substances to their original list of banned hazards.

RoHs compliance for electronics

This directive requires self-certification along with a declaration of conformity to show compliance for both your company and also the companies that supply component parts to you.

RoHS-approved products are marked with a CE logo, which is another indicator that a product has been assessed by the manufacturer to meet EU safety, health, and environmental directives. RoHS compliance is required for CE marking of products, so the indicator of RoHS compliance is the CE mark.

How Could RoHS apply to my company if we don’t sell in Europe?

Eight U.S. states have implemented their own hazardous product regulations based on the RoHS directive. The list currently includes California, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin.

In addition, 15 countries outside of the EU have also implemented various guidelines based on the RoHS initiative, including Japan, China, India, and Singapore.

While the level of product regulation varies from state to state and country to country, the indication is that the list of regional markets enacting regulations based on the RoHS directives will likely grow.

Summary

Many regulations and standards apply to the manufacture, use, and sales of electrical or electronic products. As you build or sharpen your skills in electronic circuit design, it’s best to keep in mind that even the most elegant product ideas can be affected by incomplete market planning or lack of regional regulations. You have to know what you would like to sell, what you actually have to sell, and where you want to sell it before you can actually sell it.

You can get information and support in the area of component regulations by working with the professionals at an authorized distributor of electronic components. Our friends at OnLineComponents.Com have posted comments on RoHS Directives, UL & CSA Certifications, and U.S. and EU Safety Standards in their Component Corner Blog, which is accessible at: www.onlinecomponents.com/en/blog/.

Authored By

Josh Bishop

Interested in embedded systems, hiking, cooking, and reading, Josh got his bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from Boise State University. After a few years as a CEC Officer (Seabee) in the US Navy, Josh separated and eventually started working on CircuitBread with a bunch of awesome people. Josh currently lives in southern Idaho with his wife and four kids.

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