RoHS has been described as the Y2K of the early 21st century. Most people have heard of it but many are not ready or don’t understand the implications.

RoHS or the Restriction of Hazardous Substances is a directive adopted in February 2003 by the European Union (EU) and takes effect on July 1, 2006. Each EU member state will enact its own RoHS legislation using the directive as a guide.

RoHS restricts the use of 6 substances:

• Lead
• Mercury
• Cadmium
• Hexavalent Chromium
PBB and PBDE are flame-retardants used in some plastics.

It is linked with the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE) 2002/96/EC that sets collection, recycling and recovery targets for electronics goods and is an initiative to reduce toxic e-waste.

RoHS is also taking effect in China and California. Japanese manufacturers are moving to make their products RoHS compliant. These, as well as other legislation, effectively make RoHS a worldwide compliance issue.