Monitoring heavy metals for compliance with RoHS and WEEE directives


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The rapid expansion in the quantity of used electronic and electrical appliances has created a need to safely dispose of the used equipment. The European Community has introduced regulations to enforce limits on the amount of toxic metals and organic chemicals used in the production of material. Compliance with the regulations will help prevent hazards for future generations when the equipment is recycled or responsibly disposed. In electronic and electrical equipment manufacturing, the regulations require these materials to be measured and limited.

Several analytical instrument techniques can be employed for the determination of these hazardous substances. For example, the heavy metals CD, Pb, Hg and Cr can be determined by AA, ICP-OES or ICP-MS1-2. Hexavalent chromium can be determined by UV-Vis3-4, the PPB and PBDE can be determined by GC5 and GC-MS6-7. On the  other hand, XRF can also be used for screening heavy metals and total bromine1,8. In this article, various sample preparation methods are evaluated for the determination of Cd, Pb, Hg and Cr in plastic by atomic absorption spectroscopy.

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