RoHS in the USA: State or Federal?

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Hazardous Substance Regulations in the USA: 
State or Federal?


There are many regulations on toxic metals (lead, cadmium, etc) that affect a wide range of industries (as discussed on the hazardous substance overview page).  When discussing these initiatives, the one most commonly referred to is the European Union’s (EU) Restriction on Hazardous Substances (RoHS).  This legislation bans six hazardous metals from electrical and electronic components sold or manufactured in the EU and was an original law concerning hazardous substances.


Since being adopted in 2003 (taking effect in 2006) RoHS has had many countries follow in its footsteps with similar legislation (China, Japan, etc).  While the United States of America does not have a federal law regulating hazardous substances, individual states are working on implementing their own and one already has: California.


The Electronic Waste Recycling Act (EWRA) of 2003 is commonly referred to as California RoHS – and took effect on January 1, 2007.  Summary information for this post was obtained from the website of California; which can be reviewed in full here: http://www.dtsc.ca.gov/HazardousWaste/RoHS.cfm


The California legislation is modeled after the EU Directive but covers a narrower scope, limiting the content of only four metals (lead, cadmium, mercury and hexavelent chromium).  California RoHS also limits the scope of product affected to “covered electronic devices” including LCD’s, CRTs and the like.  The maximum concentration limits for the restricted metals under CA RoHS are 0.1% by weight for lead, mercury and hexavalent chromium and is 0.01% by weight for cadmium.  The state regulation affects anyone who sells, or offers for sale, the prohibited items; including manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers and retailers. 


There are several other states that are developing similar legislation that will affect products sold or manufactured in the individual state. 


Different Opinions: Some people like the fact that individual states are being proactive in eliminating hazardous materials from products and eventually the environment.  Others, however, argue that the Federal Government should be more proactive and create a federal regulation similar to RoHS; which will eliminate discrepancies in allowable content or affected products.


We have read a lot of opinions; which do you prefer? 
The USA having a federal regulation or each state have an individual regulation? 
Feel free to let others know by replying to this posting…

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