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92 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I JUNE 2020 this industry who have—year after year—tried to solve the problem, but like those who play the fun but insidious game "whack-a-mole," it is unlikely they will ever win because one never knows when the next best thing will be found that will make everything perfect at last. It has not happened yet. Instead, the horizon has just gotten more cluttered with prospective solutions. With that said, and again for the benefit of the newcomers to the electronics interconnec- tion industry, the recounting of some of the important reasons why lead-free should never have been adopted are hereafter provided so that those newcomers might have these rea- sons to ponder and reflect upon as they them- selves step up with mallet in hand to give the game of "whack-a-mole" their best shot. I sus- pect when one considers these reasons, one might as well ask themselves, "Is lead-free sol- der really a panacea, or is it a pandemic? Reason 1 At the time of the ban, lead in electronic solders accounted for approximately 0.5% of all lead used globally. To target such a small quantity with such sweeping and overwhelm- ing legislative force was the equivalent of us- ing a shotgun to exterminate a mosquito. Reason 2 Lead in electronic solder has never been proven to cause a single individual any harm from normal use and standard and reasonable sanitary practices. (If any reader has data to the contrary, please do not hesitate to share it with me so I can be corrected.) Reason 3 Legacy lead from electronic solders that has ended up in landfills has not been shown to leach into groundwater. Even with years of such legacy lead from many other sources, such as batteries and painted structures, stud- ies done at the time showed that all but a few landfills around the nation had significant quantities of lead leaching, and these were in landfills which took in significant waste from nearby high lead use industries [1] . how we got to this point for your knowledge and edification. This is my opinion, and it is a cautionary tale. In 2006, the EU legislated a ban on lead in electronic solders. This was covered under the moniker of Restriction of Hazardous Substanc- es (RoHS), which restricts the use of a num- ber of naturally occurring elements that can be toxic under certain circumstances, along with some man-made organic compounds common- ly used as flame retardants, which have been shown to have possible links to cancer. RoHS was conceived as a prospective means of protecting both the environment and the health of Europe's citizenry (and presumably those of others around the world). However, most high-profile targets of the effort and pro- motion were executed out under the banner of "lead-free." This was arguably done because lead has long been identified as the potentially poisonous element that harms the health and development of children, mostly from inges- tion of paint chips tinted with lead pigments, which are sweet to the taste. (The Romans used to store wine in lead vessels to increase its sweetness as lead is quite soluble in vin- egar, and the common name for lead acetate formed in the process was "lead sugar.") While lead in paint and gasoline were def- initely vectors for ingestion and poisoning, there was little to no evidence to show any risk of lead in electronics solder making its way to children (or adults, for that matter). The ex- ception was found in the injury of those un- fortunate individuals in Asia and South Asia who were tasked to recycle electronics with- out being given any education, training, tools, or protective gear to carry out those tasks. It was both calculated, callous, and inhumane, but it was also highly profitable to those in charge. It was an opening for lead-free, and since that time, lead-free has, in general, been a moneymaking machine that continues to crank out profits because it is a mandate that will never have a single solution. There are too many variables to control, and too many chas- ing the "perfect" solution. I have some dear and highly respected friends and colleagues in

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