Definition

Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS Directive)

The Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive is a set of criteria formulated by the European Union (EU) to regulate the use of toxic materials in electrical and electronic devices, systems, and toys. The Directive, also known as 2002/95/EC, is effective July 1, 2006.

The RoHS Directive applies to six specific substances:

  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Cadmium
  • Hexavalent chromium
  • Polybrominated Biphenyls (PBBs)
  • Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs)

Lead is found in solder, in the platings for electronic component wires and printed-circuit foil, and in lead-acid rechargeable cells and batteries. Mercury is found in some high-intensity light bulbs and ultraviolet (UV) lamps, and was once common in cells, batteries and high-voltage rectifier tubes. Cadmium is found in older rechargeable batteries for small appliances and devices such as electric razors, cell phones and handheld radio transceivers. Hexavalent chromium exists in a wide variety of electronic components. PBBs and PBDEs are flame retardants used in plastics and in the manufacture of fabric coatings.

The RoHS Directive does not apply to batteries, tools, high-melting-point solders, the glass used in cathode ray tubes (CRTs) and fluorescent tubes, mercury-vapor light bulbs, ceramic components, and certain alloys for specialized applications. While 2002/95/EC applies specifically to the nations in the EU, similar measures have been proposed or adopted in several other countries.

This was last updated in June 2007
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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