This article is a quick guide to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) document INDG248(rev2) 'Solder fume and you: An employee’s guide'. The guide provides crucial information for individuals who work with rosin, specifically colophony-based solder flux, which can cause serious health issues like asthma and dermatitis.
What You Need to Know
Working with rosin-based solder fluxes requires you to take specific actions to prevent, control or reduce exposure to fumes, as they can cause serious health problems. It's important to know what type of solder fume you are using, so ask your manager if you're unsure.
- Health problems can occur when soldering, and symptoms can include coughing, wheezing, runny eyes or nose, and a tight chest. These could be signs of occupational asthma or another serious illness.
- If solder flux fume makes you ill, the effects will worsen if you continue to inhale the fume.
- Your employer may have a health surveillance process in place to help protect employees' health. If so, you will be asked to cooperate with this process.
Protecting Your Health
To protect your health while soldering, always keep your face out of the solder fume and use the correct control measures. These may include:
- Local exhaust ventilation (LEV)
- Solder fume extraction
- On-tip extraction
- Down-draught benches
- Enclosing hoods
- Moveable capturing hoods
You should use fume extraction when soldering using rosin-based fluxes or when using alternative fluxes for more than a few minutes a day. Make sure the system works properly every time you use or move it. Check for yourself to see how effective the LEV is where you work.
Further Reading and Information
Working with solder fumes, specifically rosin-based solder fluxes, can pose significant health risks. It's crucial to understand these risks and take appropriate measures to protect your health. Always use the correct control measures and cooperate with any health surveillance processes in place at your workplace. Stay informed and stay safe.