An exposure evaluation of lead from wave soldering operations during the manufacture of circuit boards.
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, June 2-7, 2001, New Orleans, Louisiana. Fairfax, VA: American Industrial Hygiene Association, 2001 Jun; :55
Background: NIOSH conducted a health hazard evaluation (HHE) in response to an employee request concerning potential lead exposure at a circuit board production facility. At this facility, a 60% tin/40% lead solder is used in wave solder machines to secure electronic components to the wafer boards. In particular, two processes of concern were identified. One, a daily process, was the skimming of the surface of the liquid solder in the solder pot with a slotted spoon, removing any surface dross. A second, weekly process was the thorough cleaning of internal wave solder machine components and a deep cleaning of dross from the liquid solder. Methods: Personal breathing zone and area air samples were collected for airborne lead on individuals working at the wave solder machines, at various stations of the production lines, and throughout the facility. Surface wipe sampling for lead was performed on surfaces including equipment, floors, lunchroom tabletops, and ventilation registers. Wipe samples were also performed on the hands of individuals working with the lead solder after their normal hygiene practices. Results: All personal breathing zone and area air samples returned results well below all applicable evaluation criteria. However, surface wipe sampling results ranged from below the analytic limit of detection to a high of 1700 ug lead per wipe sample. Results from hand wipe sampling revealed a high of 52 ug lead per wipe sample, taken from the individual after normal hand-washing who performed the deep cleaning of the solder pot. Conclusion: Although exposure to lead via inhalation appears to be low, its ingestion is still very possible due to the presence of lead found on a variety of work surfaces. NIOSH investigators recommended increased housekeeping procedures for better removal of lead from work surfaces, improved personal hygiene procedures, and vigilance in the use of proper personal protective equipment and engineering controls.
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