Where to solder, concerns about fumes

OBW0549

Joined Mar 2, 2015
3,566
So for under $100, what does everyone recommend for a fine extractor?
If you absolutely MUST do something, get a small- to medium-size muffin fan and place it on your bench behind whatever you're soldering, pointing away from you to draw the fumes (such as they are) away. Forget all the rest of that crapola, spend your money on tools and parts instead, and for cryin' out loud QUIT WORRYING about solder fumes.

You're far more likely to shorten your life from the effects of pointless anxiety over solder fumes, than you are from the solder fumes themselves.
 

OBW0549

Joined Mar 2, 2015
3,566
I can understand him asking....in this day and age. The peril hype on everything is overwhelming.
Very true. With all the noise about this, that and whatever, people often have a tough time making realistic risk assessments.

I don't think there is an calm adult left. I stay furious from the idiocy.
I'm calm. No point in getting angry about it; it's much better to laugh at human folly in its endless, limitless variety.
 

BR-549

Joined Sep 22, 2013
4,938
I having a hard time finding humor in it anymore. I'm all laughed out.

Don't worry tho.......I got medication. I fit right in.
 
I am a bit surprised to read some of the responses in this thread as well as some of the responses in previous threads here on the subject.

2007 https://forum.allaboutcircuits.com/...sk-available-while-soldering.5908/#post-33386

2011 https://forum.allaboutcircuits.com/threads/the-harm-of-smoke-from-soldering-tin.54828/#post-365185

2013 https://forum.allaboutcircuits.com/threads/soldering-fumes-toxic.88711/#post-641377

2014 https://forum.allaboutcircuits.com/...otect-from-soldering-smoke.94309/#post-694803

2015 https://forum.allaboutcircuits.com/...orber-or-just-a-small-fan.118355/#post-932383

2016 https://forum.allaboutcircuits.com/...-toxic-solder-help-please.122539/#post-983589

That is, responses from individuals that I have come to greatly respect for their substantial critical thinking skills when it comes to electronic circuits who, in my view and to a certain extent, abandon those skills when it comes to risk assessment for health effects.

To illustrate: suppose I build a little circuit with a PIC chip and I show it to you. You look and say, “I should add a bypass capacitor”. I respond that the circuit works fine as far as I know and I have been watching it work for a long time and you are being wayyyyyy to sensitive and getting anxious and being hysterical.

I think that I would be soundly, and deservedly, thrashed.

My point is that it is simply wrong to base a risk assessment conclusion on an individual report that someone has been soldering for many years, never took precautions against exposure and are self-reporting that they are “perfectly healthy”. It is also wrong to invoke the irrational hysteria card because the question whether inhalation of solder fumes presents a health hazard is posed.

The OP brought up a legitimate safety question and I praise him for asking the questions that he asked. They are good questions because they illustrate knowledge of some fundamental toxicological principles. In my view, expressing that knowledge, that awareness and that curiosity about health effects is not something to be criticized as a bad thing, it is something to be praised as a good thing.

Some of those fundamental principles are 1) Do not expose yourself to unknown substances, 2) Do not expose yourself to substances known to have adverse health effects, 3) Do not inhale particles of a size where they readily can enter the blood system, 4) The probability of experiencing adverse effects from such exposures increases with intensity, duration and frequency and, 5) Sensitivity to toxins varies greatly between people.

It is encouraging to see evidence of such awareness because those questions were culturally avoided in some very profound instances such as lead exposure, cigarette smoking and concussion (and many others). Do not forget that in those instances there was a time when such questions were also condemned as “irrational hysteria”. That does not mean that inhaling soldering fumes shares the same health risks as any of the others, it means that there are many instances of serious health risks that were dismissed as specious until a rational assessment was made.

To be clear, nobody outright mocked the OP, but nobody said, “Those are legitimate questions and I understand why you are concerned”.

If you truly believe that the original post in this thread (or any other post in this thread) represents “irrational hysteria”, then I don't think that you understand the definition of either one of the words.

As for the assessment of risk, I would ask that you consider whether it is “irrational hysteria” to reduce an adverse health effects risk, even a small one, if you could do so easily and conveniently – even if the exact probability of the adverse health effect is unknown. I would also ask those that have boasted about inhaling a lifetime of solder fumes whether you would encourage your children, grandchildren or people who work for you to do the same, if it could be easily mitigated.

To the OP, I say, good questions and I understand your concerns. You might want to do a search on “DIY soldering fume extractor” or just “soldering fume safety”. You may also want to look at relevant information and policy documents from respected sources, such as this one from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (http://www2.lbl.gov/ehs/ih/pdf/safeSolderingFinal.pdf). Additionally, arm yourself with the knowledge in an MSDS for the solder that you use (and any product that you are burning and inhaling).

Of course, you can also look at observational clinical reports concerning such toxicity (e.g., https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-2222.1978.tb00441.x https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-2222.1972.tb01287.x)

but don’t think that you will be able to find comprehensive random-controlled-clinical trials on these matters, because there are none. Realize too, that the source and substance of the data must be critically evaluated: What the makers of solder-fume-hoods say might be as biased as the lifetime solder inhaler who is still on this side of the ground.

The more good data that you can collect, the better the risk assessment you can make for yourself.

I suppose in the end, one man’s “common sense” is another man's “irrational hysteria”. In the words of Remo Gaggi, ”Look... why take a chance? At least, that's the way I feel about it.”
 

MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
23,089
I do not consider this as "irrational hysteria".
I believe the TS has a valid concern. However, I think the TS and everyone should be aware of the difference between exposure to elemental Pb and ionic Pb. As with any health concern, there are risks in the usage and exposure to everything. One has to analyse the risk factor. In the case of occasional use of rosin-core solder, the potential risk is in inhaling the rosin fumes, not in exposure to elemental lead. If the TS feels more comfortable, then yes, go ahead and use a fume extractor or have increased ventilation while soldering.
 

ian field

Joined Oct 27, 2012
6,539
I do not consider this as "irrational hysteria".
I believe the TS has a valid concern. However, I think the TS and everyone should be aware of the difference between exposure to elemental Pb and ionic Pb. As with any health concern, there are risks in the usage and exposure to everything. One has to analyse the risk factor. In the case of occasional use of rosin-core solder, the potential risk is in inhaling the rosin fumes, not in exposure to elemental lead. If the TS feels more comfortable, then yes, go ahead and use a fume extractor or have increased ventilation while soldering.
It would be better to not breathe the fumes - but paranoia about this sort of thing is way OTT.
 

MisterBill2

Joined Jan 23, 2018
8,244
One very important thing that I learned about soldering many years ago is that if you are so close that you burn your nose, you are too close to the work, and should back away. Really, I learned the hard way back in 1956.
 

MisterBill2

Joined Jan 23, 2018
8,244
I do not consider this as "irrational hysteria".
I believe the TS has a valid concern. However, I think the TS and everyone should be aware of the difference between exposure to elemental Pb and ionic Pb. As with any health concern, there are risks in the usage and exposure to everything. One has to analyse the risk factor. In the case of occasional use of rosin-core solder, the potential risk is in inhaling the rosin fumes, not in exposure to elemental lead. If the TS feels more comfortable, then yes, go ahead and use a fume extractor or have increased ventilation while soldering.
Look up the vapor pressure of lead and tin, and you will understand why correct electronic soldering is not hazardous. Torch soldering of sheet metal may be different.
 

Audioguru

Joined Dec 20, 2007
11,249
A cheap electric soldering iron is too hot like a blow torch (a butane soldering iron IS a blow torch) and it causes the flux to burn and make smoke. A temperature controlled soldering iron does not make smoke, instead it makes a nice scent of melted rosin.A big difference.
 

dendad

Joined Feb 20, 2016
3,793
I have not been worried about the lead in the solder smoke, but the other chemicals in the smoke.
As I have stated a few times when posting on this subject, I consider it wise to have fume extraction. Over the years I did not, but I do now, even though it is too late for me. And also, it does seem odd to me how electrical safety is plugged on this forum, and rightly so, but the chemical side, breathing some exotic stews is brushed off as ok. In my case, I remain convinced that my lung damage is at least partly the result of such long term exposure. Still, it is up to each person to decide, but to accuse someone of paranoia because that want to take precautions is not really a kind thing to do.
If you look at my icon, you can see it has made me turn blue, BUT just see what it has done to Ian Field ;)
 

MisterBill2

Joined Jan 23, 2018
8,244
A cheap electric soldering iron is too hot like a blow torch (a butane soldering iron IS a blow torch) and it causes the flux to burn and make smoke. A temperature controlled soldering iron does not make smoke, instead it makes a nice scent of melted rosin.A big difference.
With a really hot cheap soldering iron one must move very fast doing the joints to avoid excess heat delivery.
 

dendad

Joined Feb 20, 2016
3,793
That soldering iron is a beauty! Soldering at 20 paces ;)
Did anyone else use the Scope irons? The heating element was a cylinder of graphite mechanically pushed up against the back of the tip. If you were not careful, that could glow red hot. Very handy for silver soldering but you can just imagine what they could do to PCBs!
That was one of my irons at a time in the past.
ScopeIron.png
I notice the element is places the wrong way around in the picture.

Now I use temperature controlled irons.
 

MisterBill2

Joined Jan 23, 2018
8,244
I just try not to breathe in the fumes.
I have been soldering since 1980 and not noticed any health problems.
I started soldering in 1956, at a fairly young age, and since then i have had a fair amount of practice. The panic over lead in solder is a very good example of what happens when unknowing people get hold of a single fact with no understanding of how it relates to reality. Yes, lead is indeed toxic, therefore we should never eat printed circuit boards, ever! But what is the mass of lead in a computer mother board? And yet the claim was made that each computer contained about six pounds of lead. I saw that claim quite a few times, always made by writers who had no way of understanding the construction of computer hardware at all. So now the whole world suffers.
 

SLK001

Joined Nov 29, 2011
1,548
I suspect their technique was flawed and the lead came from solder used for assembly.
It might have been a high lead solder (95/5) used to attach the die to the substrate. The last time I dealt with these things, this lead usage was exempt from ROHS.
 
Top