Stainless Steel Welding and Chromium 6 under EU RoHS

Question: Hexavalent chromium (chromium 6) is restricted from use in electronic equipment in the EU under the RoHS Directive, but it’s commonly formed during stainless steel welding. Does welding wire therefore need to comply with the RoHS Directive?

Answer: No, stainless steel welding wires and rods are considered consumable items outside the scope of the RoHS Directive, but that doesn’t mean there is no potential for chromium 6 exposure.

Chromium 6 is a harmful substance when touched directly or inhaled as a fume. Elemental chromium is often used to strengthen stainless steel during the alloying stage. As such, welding steel components or welding with steel wires and rods could potentially produce chromium 6 temporarily.

While chromium 6 can be produced through “hot” work such as welding, it is not present in stainless steel. Chromium 6 will not typically be the reason the RoHS Directive applies to electrical and electronic equipment (EEE), but that doesn’t mean it should be dismissed entirely.

This article is current as of 2019-08-02.

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