Toxicity of Circuit Components

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by cyt O., Dec 30, 2011.

  1. cyt O.

    Thread Starter New Member

    Dec 30, 2011
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    I'm interested in incorporating capacitors, resistors, and diodes into artwork, and I welcome advice about where to get nontoxic components.
    Thanks in advance for your help.
     
  2. Wendy

    Moderator

    Mar 24, 2008
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    What part of the world are you?

    Most components have toxic innards, but they are encapsulated. You're safe.

    Lead tin solder is considered toxic nowdays, but it is a point of view I do not agree with. As usual, big brother dictates it must go. Lead tin solder melts at a lower temperature and bonds with wires better, it is easier to work with. If you are concerned Tin Silver solder does work though, it is harder to work with and can have long term reliability issues.

    Something like an LED might have Gallium Arsenide, which is extremely toxic, but there is no problem throwing it in land fills because the surrounding epoxy has it encapsulated very long term.
     
  3. cyt O.

    Thread Starter New Member

    Dec 30, 2011
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    Hi, Bill. Thanks for the quick response. I'm in the US (North Carolina). Radio Shack seems like a good place for shopping. I'd originally planned to use parts scavenged from abandoned televisions, but the unknown nature of the materials in the circuit boards was of concern.
    Scott
     
  4. Adjuster

    Well-Known Member

    Dec 26, 2010
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    I would not recommend putting electronic parts into things that are liable to be handled and possibly chewed by children.

    Otherwise, you may be better to consult whatever authorities actually make the rules about what you are going to do, particularly if you plan to make articles for sale. Your own insurers may have a view on this.

    If you are buying components new, it should be easier to get devices complying with the latest safety regulations. These have proliferated in recent years - some people would say unnecessarily. They differ from region to region. Here is a link to a UK government website http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/elecindx.htm

    If you go for cheap deals from eBay etc you may well get older parts with lead-based solder coated terminations. This would not worry me too much, but care may be advisable in handling such things. In some countries, components containing lead may now be prohibited from use in new items made for sale.

    One rare thing I would be very careful to avoid is beryllium oxide. This is terribly toxic, but in fact you are fairly unlikely to encounter it, as it is mainly associated with specialist semiconductor and vacuum tubes. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beryllium_oxide
     
  5. ErnieM

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 24, 2011
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    Components will not out gas to any significant degree, and even if you touch them you will not pick up any significant amount of contaminants.

    So unless your artwork is intended to either be incorporated into food for human consumption, or used as a food preparation surface you don't have anything to worry about.
     
  6. THE_RB

    AAC Fanatic!

    Feb 11, 2008
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    Maybe you could keep the resistors and LEDs etc inside clear plastic tubing?

    It works for decoration lights etc, makes them easy to wipe clean and stops people touching the metal connections etc which is good for a number of reasons. :)
     
  7. Adjuster

    Well-Known Member

    Dec 26, 2010
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    Yes, encapsulating the work or otherwise covering it, perhaps in a glazed frame or case, might be a possibility. Naturally this would depend on whether this would be acceptable from the visual (tactile?) point of view.

    Is there any intention to have the pieces powered in any way, for instance to make them light up? Possibly you will find this absurd*, but if it were considered electrical safety would also become an issue. Apart from covering any bare wires, it may be wise to use a low-voltage supply. This should be isolated by a double-wound transformer if it is to be powered from the AC mains. It would probably be far easier to obtain a safe result by using commercial AC/DC adaptors. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extra-low_voltage

    *Anticipated response:"It's supposed to be art, not a Christmas tree or an "Eat at Joe's" sign, and anyhow I'm not some geek who wants to play around with diode emitting lights, or whatever they call those things!"
     
  8. MrChips

    Moderator

    Oct 2, 2009
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    I would advise not chewing on chips. Leave that for me.
     
  9. Lundwall_Paul

    Member

    Oct 18, 2011
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    Military electronics can be real bad. I have run across, Beryllium, Radium, Cobalt, PCB......
    Innocent looking parts like ceramic often contain Beryllium Oxide</SPAN> which is real nasty stuff if it becomes airborne.
     
  10. Wendy

    Moderator

    Mar 24, 2008
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    Of course, this is only a concern if you plan on chewing or grinding the parts, which is not the norm. Beryllium Oxide is considered safe as long as you don't machine it. I've worked around it enough, it is well documented.

    The advice not to chew (or to allow children to chew) these parts is well founded. My post #2 was also accurate.

    Just handling these parts is safe, as is soldering on them. If a capacitor blows it smells bad, but you are not going to be poisoned.
     
  11. Lundwall_Paul

    Member

    Oct 18, 2011
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    When working with known things read the MSDS. I worked in mil-aerospace testing and saw problems with Beryllium alloys being turned into to dust during acoustic noise testing.
    Bill is absolutely correct such items that may have Beryllium in them you should have no problems with handling it, again if you have doubts read the MSDS.
     
  12. thatoneguy

    AAC Fanatic!

    Feb 19, 2009
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    If you are concerned, here's a list:

    1) The lead in solder is overblown hysteria and has cost quadrillions of dollars to get around/overcome the issues presented by ROHS compliance (lead free)

    2) If you are worried about people in contact with it, or cooled/solid solder in open air, there is really no danger. Provided you don't rub the solder until your fingers are grey, then proceed to lick them, then it's a small issue.

    3) If concerned, put 3-4 layers of clearcoat over the artpiece when completed. This will work until they ban clearcoat for some reason. You can get electrical clear conformal coating which is a thicker clear coat which has high voltage resistance for about $8/can. Either of which will insulate people from the "evil chemicals" they are looking at.

    I'm pretty sure if people saw the chemical makeup of most everyday things, there would be laws made to put us back into the wood and stone age. :(
     
  13. Wendy

    Moderator

    Mar 24, 2008
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    It took me several posts, but that is pretty much what I said.

    The fear factor should not rule as it does, but I also agree it pays to watch what is used, there have been real chemicals that should never have made it to put into public use.

    The real point I wanted to post was I use Radio Shack, but if you can wait 3 days you will save around 66% of the cost, including shipping. Radio Shack tends to value their parts very highly, too much so.
     
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