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Old 04-04-2011, 12:17 PM   #4589 (permalink)
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A related topic: I don't think the fumes from regular soldering are as harmful as you think. The annoying smoke is from the rosin flux. Somehow the convection air flow always puts it right into your eyes and nose. But as long as you are soldering with normal heat, it's almost all flux smoke and no vaporized lead.

The danger from lead comes later, when it corrodes into active compounds. And during scrapping. The widely publicized problem, which I suspect isn't quite as common as it's made out to be in the alarmist stories, is in metal recovery. Some small-scale operations in low income countries recover the metal by de-soldering the parts over an open flame. That vaporizes the corrosion compounds and even some of metallic lead. All with people leaning over the boards, pulling off the parts.

Bottom line: a soldering iron on a fresh board is mostly safe. Don't ever solder or desolder with an open flame, and take care when re-soldering a corroded connection.
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