Ask the Experts
November 13, 2006
Halogen Free PCB legislation
What global legislation dictates the specification of Halogen Free PCBs? Is the Montreal Protocol included?
Have there been any generic reliability risks identified for Halogen Free PCBs which are to be used in Aerospace or Military applications?
Expert Panel Responses
Outside of San Francisco, there is no current legislation or regulation (and there is no such thing as 'global legislation' --that would require a global government) in the world that requires removal of all halogens from PCBs. There is pressure from NGOs like Greenpeace to remove all bromines from electronics, however, and iNEMI has a project underway to identify replacements in PCBs.
San Francisco banned bisphenol A in products and child care items for infants/toddlers under 3 years of age. See my article, Bisphenol-A and phthalates banned from electronic toys. This would restrict the sale of electronics intended for this age group due to TBBPA in PCBs and components. However, the American Chemistry Council, which is the chemical industry lobbying organization, filed suit recently and succeeded in obtaining a temporary injunction. See the article " City sued over ban on children's products using suspect chemicals Plaintiffs say state law pre-empts the local ordinance."
Also, Sweden is investigating whether to restrict TBBPA (tetrabromobisphenol A), which is used in PCBs. They have been warned that this would effectively make electronics unavailable in Sweden (even if it were removed from PCBs it is used extensively in "plastic" packaged electronic components like integrated circuits and tantalum capacitors).
Design Chain Associates, LLC
Mr. Kirschner is President of Design Chain Associates, LLC, focused on helping electronics OEMs comply with RoHS/WEEE requirements, and speeding time-to-market, reducing product cost, and increasing engineering and procurement efficiency.
I think the questions confuses two different approaches for different classes of materials.
The Montreal protocol included CFC materials in a product but also material used to make a product even if it was not left in the finished article. The legislation for halogenated flame retardents covers materials actually in the pcb. The Montreal protocol had global government signatories but as far as I know, regional legislation covers halogenated flame retardents.
I am not aware of specific issues raised for halogen-free pcb for aerospace/military applications but cannot say for sure that none have been identified.
Douglass Dixon is the Chief Marketing Officer for 360 BC Group, a marketing agency with offices throughout the US. 360 BC specializes in consulting and implementing successful marketing programs that utilize the latest in marketing, sales and technology strategies. As an electronics veteran, Dixon has worked in the industry for over 30 years for companies like Henkel, Universal Instruments, Camelot Systems, and Raytheon. Dixon's electronics industry experience includes a broad skill set that includes engineering, field service, applications, product management and marketing communications expertise.