The environmental impact of lead solder *spawn

Discussion in 'Politics & Ethics of Technology' started by Shifty Geezer, Feb 1, 2010.

  1. Shifty Geezer

    Shifty Geezer uber-Troll!
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    Well, part of that would be because material science hasn't found an alternative, rather than because there is no better alternative. Personally I don't understand the problem with lead solder. People aren't eating these things!
     
  2. Silent_Buddha

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    Environmental voodoo scare tactics, and politicians pandering to it to get more votes basically. Proper recycling would have been far cheaper than moving entire industries over to lead free.

    Instead we have higher cost, and more goods thrown into landfills.

    Regards,
    SB
     
  3. cbarcus

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    After seeing the excellent documentary Manufactured Landscapes, I'd hazard to guess that lead exposure during the recycling process might have been part of the reason for the ban.
     
  4. holsty101

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  5. Silent_Buddha

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    I'll have to look up that film. I work in recycling part time, mostly metals (and as such PCBs for anything from computers to stereos to whatever). And thus far it's nothing like the horror stories some friends of my continue to use to try to convince me that its horrible for the environment.

    And with respect to lead-free solder and the hubbub over leaded solder. The impact to the environment of more devices going into landfills is far more harmful IMO, than when leaded solder was more prevalent.

    /shrug. Anyway, going to track down that documentary and check it out.

    As an aside, we use leaded solder to desolder components from PCBs. Fun stuff.

    Regards,
    SB
     
  6. RudeCurve

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    I've soldered with lead free solder and from my experience it's no different from lead based solder.

    I got one of these solder stations on ebay for $60.

    [​IMG]

    As for IR reflow stations, Sony probably uses something like this...costs $10K each. Not really that expensive if you think about it.

    http://www.madelltech.com/SMD-IR.html
     
    #6 RudeCurve, Feb 7, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 7, 2010
  7. novcze

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    Just to add to the discussion, lead free soldering isn't allowed in aeronautical and other demanding industries. So it's clear they are well aware of the problem. But failing consumer electronics is probably not as big problem as falling planes :)
     
  8. novcze

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    Yep, only higher temperature on the tip is required, but properties of the joint are different, given by lead free alloy.
     
  9. Grall

    Grall Invisible Member
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    Right. Because lead never killed anyone! (Lest it was fired at high velocities out of a gun barrel of course...) Voodoo scare tactics all of it!

    Yeah, because cost > everything!

    Why do you automatically assume more goods ends up in landfills just because of lead-free solder? That's prepostrous.
     
  10. RudeCurve

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    That's because the perfect lead free solder formulation hasn't been found yet. Lead has two main purposes in lead based solder, ductibility and suppression of whisker formation.
     
  11. Shifty Geezer

    Shifty Geezer uber-Troll!
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    I think the point is a smidgeon in environmental waters isn't going to harm anyone, while alternative solutions would mean you reclaim the solder instead of putting in a landfill anyway.

    You misunderstand. The problem is environmental lead contamination. this occurs when lead-solder devices are left in the environment and lead is leeched into the water supply. There are two possible solutions. 1) Replace the lead so when these devices are chucked in landfill, lead isn't leeched. 2) Don't chuck the devices in landfill and instead reclaim the components and resources. Option 2 costs more than option 1 so isn't pursued, although it is the ideal solution. Instead companies are forced to use lead-free solder which leads to system failures and more broken devices, for which the current solution favors chucking it in landfill.
     
  12. Mize

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    people don't eat solder - they breathe it.
     
  13. Squilliam

    Squilliam Beyond3d isn't defined yet
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    Hypothetically speaking, since there are other toxic materials in electronics today, does this not also mean that whatever other nasty chemicals and elements which are in the products get leeched away in greater quantities if people are throwing away more devices with Pb free solder?
     
  14. NRP

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    Only K.I.L.E.R, and possibly xxx. :grin:
     
  15. Blazkowicz

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    but improper disposal of electronics is illegal now (in EU I believe). so they have the landfill aspect covered as well, in theory.

    of course french university laboratories, which you imagine would be among the most responsible, throw out all their shit in big dumpsters. or you might find beat up computers screens on the street.
    ridding of the electronics shit is expensive :)
     
  16. Shifty Geezer

    Shifty Geezer uber-Troll!
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    Yes, it's the WEEE directive. And if we're having to dispose of it through safe means, why not reclaim materials, in which case lead-based solder would be beneficial I'd have thought.
     
  17. Blazkowicz

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    but is that easily doable? do you have little hands scrubbing lead from say, a geforce 7800GTX, or do you heat the 7800GTX till lead fusion point?
     
  18. Silent_Buddha

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    Except it wasn't cheaper...

    Whole industries had to retool and relearn basic soldering. A proper recycling and reclamation system would have been cheaper to implement as that would have required no change in manufacturing.

    Whole lines of consumers electronics have failed and lawsuits have been filed. Damages paid,etc. Nvidia's fiasco with failing GPUs in Laptops in one prime example, with hundreds of thousands of laptops either going into landfills or to reclamation centers depending on your location.

    As well recycling costs will be more expensive as more devices fail sooner and in greater numbers. And recycling centers had to be retooled/retrained to handle this, they could have just as easily been retooled/retrained to recycle leaded solder products. Oh, and actually they had to do that anyway.

    All in all, the switch has incurred hundreds of millions if not billions in dollars across virtually all industries. All the while generating more waste.

    But in the end scare tactics and winning "political points" with the green crowd won out.

    Regards,
    SB
     
  19. Colourless

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    Lead is probably a biggest problem for towns with Lead smelters. Pt Pirie which is a town near me with a lead smelter has a massive campaign to reduce the blood lead levels of children because they are way way way higher than is considered safe.
     
  20. Mintmaster

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    Isn't that just a fleeting problem? I don't see failures being any higher than before in 5-10 years.

    Again, isn't that just a one time cost? Over decades and centuries it won't matter. Recycling lead, OTOH, will always add to the unit cost.

    Besides, recycling could never be properly enforced for something as cheap as lead. It doesn't matter if a new recycling system would cost less than lead-free development. As long as new lead solder costs less than recycled lead solder, recycling is a dead end solution.
     
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