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Lead Soldering Safety

Learn about lead soldering safety.

solder

Workers can be exposed to lead during soldering. If handled incorrectly, lead can pose chronic health effects, such as reproductive problems, digestive problems, memory and concentration problems, and muscle and joint pain.         

Potential exposure routes:

  • Ingestion
  • Inhalation

Soldering with lead (or other metals used in soldering) can produce dust and fumes that are hazardous. In addition, using flux containing rosin produces solder fumes that, if inhaled, can result in occupational asthma or worsen existing asthmatic conditions; as well as cause eye and upper respiratory tract irritation.

Substitute for Non-Lead Containing Products

Many non-lead based solder alloys are available and are equally effective. To reduce risk, please substitute lead use or non-lead based products whenever possible.

Reduce Risk of Personal Exposure

  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions and read and understand the Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for all materials before beginning work.
  • Avoid ingestion of lead surface contamination by keeping soldering areas clean.
  • Wash hands after completing soldering work.
  • Do not eat or drink in soldering areas.
  • Conduct work in a well-ventilated area. Avoid inhalation of soldering smoke/fumes. See Building Ventilation requirements.
  • Use the following Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to prevent inadvertent contact:
    • Protective Clothing – To prevent burns from splashes of hot solder, long sleeve shirts and pants that are made of natural fibers (cotton) and closed‐toe shoes should be worn. Heat resistant gloves may also be prudent.
    • Eye Protection – Safety glasses, goggles, or face shields should be used when soldering and clipping wires. Hold leads so when cutting, they do not fly away.
    • Clean work surfaces by using wet wipe method or specialized lead cleaning wipes, avoid lead contamination by using common housekeeping brooms, mops, and/or any materials that are being reused.  Discard lead contaminated materials as hazardous materials.

Waste Management

Lead soldering waste* is considered hazardous. Discard lead solder and dross in a container with a lid.  Used solder sponges and contaminated rags must be disposed of as hazardous waste. The collection container should be metal and labeled. Request a hazardous waste collection to disposes of hazardous waste generated by UCSD facilities.

Learn more about disposing electronic devices or e-waste.

*Other metal-containing solder dross, such as that from silver soldering, will need to be managed in a similar manner.

Regulations and policies

[Adapted from http://www.cmu.edu/ehs/chemical/Lead%20Soldering%20Safety%20Guidelines.pdf]