How dangerous is lead solder?
Old 26th September 2007
  #1
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Thread Starter
How dangerous is lead solder?

I've been screwing around with (non-RoHS) electronics since I was about 5 and got my first electronics kit. I've had a soldering iron since I was about 7.

I keep hearing stuff on the news about lead-based paint recalls of children's toys. Obviously I don't eat my electronics generally, but I'm sure the amount of lead in solder is greater than the amount of lead in any paint. Between the fumes and the handling, is the lead solder that dangerous?

I will admit that I probably don't use the "best practices" while handling the solder. Soldering on the kitchen table, eating while soldering, drinking while soldering, and not having one of those super air filters for the soldering fumes.

Someone either tell me that it's not that big of a deal (hey we're all going to die of something some day right?), or scare the shit out of me and tell me to reform myself immediately or else!
Old 26th September 2007
  #2
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I'm not dead yet either...

Dave -

I've been a tech for over 25 years now and though I've been soldering all those years it was never a case of being in a tight enclosed space and soldering 8 hours a day 5 days a week....for weeks on end. I don't think the way we all solder is much of a danger to any of us - but since we know lead solder fumes ARE bad for us, make sure from now on you are working in a large space with good fresh air-flow.... and that you're not sucking in the direct fumes because you're so close to the point of soldering.

I am still using the standard solder myself.

Since you and I are posting to gearslutz, that is a definite indication that our intellect has indeed been already affected by these same soldering fumes... otherwise we would have chosen some other more financially rewarding and sensible field to work in, with fewer crazies and flakes surrounding us.

goreski
Old 26th September 2007
  #3
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I just got into electronics and am using the regular old stuff...i try not to breath it in but sometimes its just impossible!
Old 26th September 2007
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tibbon View Post
I've been screwing around with (non-RoHS) electronics since I was about 5 and got my first electronics kit. I've had a soldering iron since I was about 7.

I keep hearing stuff on the news about lead-based paint recalls of children's toys. Obviously I don't eat my electronics generally, but I'm sure the amount of lead in solder is greater than the amount of lead in any paint. Between the fumes and the handling, is the lead solder that dangerous?

I will admit that I probably don't use the "best practices" while handling the solder. Soldering on the kitchen table, eating while soldering, drinking while soldering, and not having one of those super air filters for the soldering fumes.

Someone either tell me that it's not that big of a deal (hey we're all going to die of something some day right?), or scare the shit out of me and tell me to reform myself immediately or else!

You have to consume quite a bit of lead to get lead poisoning, and over a long period of time.....

remember in the middle ages they used lead pipes for water distribution and they used lead glazes on pottery/dishes and lead solder when Canned food was first marketed and not everybody got lead poisoning (quite a few did though).....
you need a constant heavey exposure you make yerself sick, sort of like smokeing ,if you smoke for 30 years you will probably get cancer but if you smoke once in a while you probably won"t get cancer as your body can handle a certain amount of toxins before they become toxic......

And poeple who have been shot with lead bullets that don"t get removed don"t get lead poisoning......

When soldering i would probably be more worried about the burning flux than the solder as I don"t think heating lead to it's melting point will release much if any fumes into the air but the flux does smoke and smell bad and I"m sure it isn"t that good for you.....

Cheers
Old 26th September 2007
  #5
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Thread Starter
So what's all the bitching and whining about with lead paint? How many toys are these kids eating? How many paint chips off the walls are these kids pulling off? I live in an old apartment with lead paint (fair assumption in Boston) and there's no chips coming off.
Old 26th September 2007
  #6
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some kids eat a lot of paint chips
Old 26th September 2007
  #7
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lead is far more damaging to young children.
Old 26th September 2007
  #8
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can't be good for you ..get a fan that blows it away from you..and don't eat any
Old 26th September 2007
  #9
ktf
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I was alway told by my boss (no bias there) that lead doesn't fume at soldering temps. That what you are seeing are flux fumes..Arrg..flux fummmmmes!
Old 26th September 2007
  #10
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This reminds me that Fry's still has lead solder in stock and I want to get a bunch before they sell it off and I can never find it again.
Old 27th September 2007
  #11
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by APOHStudios View Post
For you and I, lead is not so much a concern, we are probably going to die some other audio related death. Lead is not that big a deal (excluding bullets) for adults in regular exposure.
Audio related death? How could that happen?
brb, I need to lick the filter cap on a 200 watt Marshall head... opps.
Nevermind, I see what you mean.
Old 27th September 2007
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tibbon View Post
So what's all the bitching and whining about with lead paint? How many toys are these kids eating? How many paint chips off the walls are these kids pulling off? I live in an old apartment with lead paint (fair assumption in Boston) and there's no chips coming off.
the mainstream media's collective desire to rule (and sell) by fear...among other things...
Old 27th September 2007
  #13
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I have been soldering since I was 10 years old. I have also used chemical for cleaning electronics like Tetrachloroethelyne.
I have had some medical issues but wether or not they are related I can't prove it, but if someone gave me conclusive evidence that it was the cause I probably would not be surprized. Any chemicals aor elements like lead and meurcury (found in florescent lights and LCD screens) are very dangerous and should be handled with care if at all.
Old 27th September 2007
  #14
Gear maniac
 

I tend to pull marathon soldering sessions when I have a big project that I am working on. 5 to 6 hours straight every night until the project is finished is the norm. In the past I have made myself really sick from sinus problems. I have really bad sinus problems from alergies & Im sure that the solder fumes were a contributor.
Last year I cut a 4" hole in the door of my shop & installed a 4" muffin fan with a louvered vent cover on the outside to keep the weather out, I then connected a 20' expandable clothes dryer hose to the fan & ran it to my workbench. Now whenever I am soldering I position the hose next to my work & plug in the fan & 100% of the fumes are drawn out of the room & outside. When I am not soldering the hose can be collapsed & put out of the way. The good news is...it works great! As a result, I am spending less time sneezing & more time soldering.
Old 27th September 2007
  #15
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Hi
You mean I have to stop drinking the leadded paint and sucking the lead pastilles? Damn!!
Much that it would upset the burocrats that have brought in RoHS, if you follow simple guidelines and basic hygeine there is no real issue unless you really do spend 12 hours a day every day working with it.
Wash you hands after working and before eating and drinking especially. Don't breathe the fumes (whether it is the solder or the flux). Statistically speaking you would then be more likely to suffer from steel poisoning, being killed or injured in a steel car.
Matt S
Old 27th September 2007
  #16
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Thread Starter
As a serious note, I may have a very good friend that is pregnant visiting soon for a week. With what you're saying it would probably be prudent to stop soldering when she's around that week, and not encourage her to handle circuit boards and such

Yes, my apartment is that small. Think an overpriced dorm room.
Old 27th September 2007
  #17
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Hi
There is no real need to be paranoid about it, just sensible.
Don't sit in a fume filled room and if handling the boards wash your hands.
For fumes, think 30 cigarettes a day or whatever!
Handwashing like having been to the bathroom, nothing extreme like anti chemical suits and oxygen masks.
Besides, you will be 'entertaining' won't you?
Matt S
Old 27th September 2007
  #18
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Syson View Post
Hi
There is no real need to be paranoid about it, just sensible.
....
Besides, you will be 'entertaining' won't you?
Matt S

Good point. I'll just make that she doesn't chew on the lead paint walls here
Old 30th September 2007
  #19
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Well I wouldn't believe there would be ANY lead in the fumes. The iron is only hot enough to convert a solid into a liquid. To change lead to a gas would be MUCH higher. But the flux fumes really aren't good I would think. They give me kind of a dull headache if I don't use a fan. I soldered 8 hours a day for years in the 80's and I am still alive and healthy. But a fan is a good idea.

And I read ya on those marathon sessions! I don't stop soldering 'till it is done OR I run into a part I mistakenly didn't order lol. And yes you are more likley to suffer another audio related death. I'm building a G9 Tube mic amp now. And if that don't kill me I'll be back this week to tell ya how it sounds.
Old 30th September 2007
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stagefright13 View Post
Well I wouldn't believe there would be ANY lead in the fumes. The iron is only hot enough to convert a solid into a liquid. To change lead to a gas would be MUCH higher.
Keep in mind that you don't have to raise a liquid to the boiling point (or, for that matter, a solid to the melting point) to create vapors. If this were the case, there would be no humidity (hmm, sounds good, this is why I live in the desert.) Ever wonder why ice cubes disappear in the freezer?

The boiling point is the temperature above which (at the given pressure) the substance cannot exist in the liquid state, and similarly for the melting point.

Having said all that, there is probably very little evaporation of lead from liquid or solid solder.
Old 30th September 2007
  #21
Lead in solder is very dangerous. According to Al Gore, it's a major cause of global warming.

People are so pissed off at leadless solder not working, their anger has raised global temperatures.

Jim Williams
Audio Upgrades
Old 1st October 2007
  #22
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Hahaha....

Fellas, there is a lot to be considered when assigning a toxicity level to anything. The exposure pathway is very important (eating it, breathing it, or injecting it for example) to consider, as well as subject age and the actual physical interaction that occurs in ones body with a particular chemical.

For routine useage, you would not be in danger-especially as an adult. Like others have said, use your head anyway-less is better so stop sucking on the lead solder!

here is the key to everything you may encouter: EVERYTHING IS TOXIC-IT IS JUST A MATTER OF DOSE.
Old 1st October 2007
  #23
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Thread Starter
As something to help my poison, I just got a new Hakko 936 today that I need to go fire up. Screw those radioshack irons. Never again.
Old 1st October 2007
  #24
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Cool! Hakko and Weller are very good. You will love it. While I am here... LOL Isn't lead like a million times heavier than nitrogen? (Or air wich is about the same density) so wouldn't it drop like a rock due to density? Might even keep bugs off the floor
Could be the reason we all can still think...

And come to think of it I never seen any bugs in the wave solder room where I used to work EXCEPT a flaming fly once...
Old 1st October 2007
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stagefright13 View Post
Well I wouldn't believe there would be ANY lead in the fumes.
Exactly, it is the flux that makes the smoke in soldering, and like you said, try not to breathe it.

Contact poisoning is possible with the lead in solder, if you aren't in the habit of washing your hands, or like to eat around a dirty lead-laden workspace.
Old 1st October 2007
  #26
Gear nut
 

There has never been a documented case of lead solder leaching out of landfills. There has never been any documentation to show that lead solder is any type of environmental issue. But the "pollies" raised a stink, it sounds good, and presto, we have Rohs.

I'm a test engineer for my day job, I deal with this daily. Rohs is a PITA and has done nothing but cause us $$ and troubles.

You're not eating solder like a child could potentially eat lead based paint. That's the difference.

Mike
Old 5th October 2007
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyle S View Post
lead is far more damaging to young children.

Exactly.

Beyond lead poisoning from long term exposure the real risk is to kids.
Wikipedia (Lead poisoning - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) sez:

"A direct link between early lead exposure and extreme learning disability has been confirmed by multiple researchers and child advocacy groups." Although with no links to the studies themselves.

From what I recall woman who plan to bear children also need to be more concerned about their lead exposure because it stores in the body and can be passed along to the developing child.

Inhaling fumes or eating a few chips as a full grown adult might not matter much but it's both a larger dose to a child and matters more if it interferes with development.


-Yosh!
Old 5th October 2007
  #28
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Well, it can cause... can cause... oh, I forgot what it's called - oh yeah, memory loss...
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