How hazardous are soldering fumes ? - Page 2 - RC Groups
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May 03, 2001, 09:21 PM
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i just hold my breath
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May 03, 2001, 10:03 PM
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Andy W's Avatar
Just blow the smoke away..
Seriously, however, wear eye protection. As you force the cells together, you splash solder in your eyes once, you won't do it again. No, I haven't.
May 04, 2001, 07:37 AM
Registered User
Last time I've been soldering batteries for one hour in a closed room I had a stomachache which lasted all the night...
Then I looked on some big book and I learnt that lead, combined with saliva, can produce some strong acid...perhaps HCl (can't remember well), not really healthy!
Whether the stomach acidity I had came from lead or something else in the rosin I don't know, anyway now I solder in the kitchen under the aspirator, and hold the breath while smoke is coming up.
May 04, 2001, 10:19 AM
Registered User
Has anyone stuck a rusty nail in Coke and see what it does, but yet we still drink it?
May 04, 2001, 10:35 PM
Peter Mar's Avatar
In the winter I also solder on the stovetop (covered to prevent residue build up and food contamination). I crank the exhaust fan on max and don't lean over the smoke.

With kids in the house and being an advid non smoker, the flux and lead fumes I stick my face into is a bit ironic.

In the summer, which is 3 months long here, I try to solder outside on low wind days.

Everyone should be wary of the effects of bioaccumulation of any heavy metal particles that you ingest. The impacts are long term but they are real.

As for the short term lung damage, asthma like symptoms, the acids created in the flux smoke and your lungs will tend to burn soft tissues like nasal/throat linings and of course your lungs.

Better safe than sorry. Wear eye protection, a mask if you hang over you work, and have excellent ventilation.

May 05, 2001, 10:34 AM
Registered User
Originally posted by Spiff:
The big problem with lead and other heavy metals such as mercury is that your body cannot get rid of it so all intakes are cumulative.
Maybe this is why I'm 30 lbs. overweight?

May 05, 2001, 10:57 AM
Senior Member
Take this seriously. Heavy metal build-up in your body is not fun. I've suffered it as a result of working with solder too much. I've also choked on flux acid fumes once (pretty near death. I ended up on oxygen from a paramedic)

Yes, use an extractor fan and don't lean over your work and DO definately without any arguments wear safety glasses. Soldering is potentially quite dangerous from the short-term effects of burning yourself to the long terms ones of heavy metal poisoning. And I don't mean Iron Maiden!
May 07, 2001, 12:59 PM
Registered User
Well said Gordy!

In my youth, I was exposed to a lot of fumes from various poisonous adhesives and varnishes (the good ol'butyrate and nitrate dopes), film developers and fixers and solder fumes. I now live with a mild case of Crohn desease. I can't tell if it is a direct consequence of inhaling all that stuff but it surely didn't help. Today, I practice aeromodelling everyday but shortly (20-30 min). I know I have enough when I feel it's time for a walk outside.

Because they are 'hobby' chemicals doesn't make them harmless. Now I take seriously all warnings written on any chemical containers.

May 07, 2001, 02:35 PM
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Steve McBride's Avatar
Yes, lead is bad. However you won't find much if it in the fumes at soldering temperatures. The danger of introducing lead into your body is by handeling the solder. Wash hands after use, before going to bathroom or eating, etc. Oh - and don't chew on it either....

Good luck!

May 07, 2001, 03:40 PM
Registered User
Believe it or not, I saw an engineer at work holding solder wire with his lips while his hands were busy soldering a prototype circuit . I quickly recommended him to use a "third hand" or get some help!

Originally posted by stevem:
Oh - and don't chew on it either....
Jun 08, 2009, 09:28 AM
Registered User

The danger of solder fumes

I work for a Canadian manufacturer of solder extraction systems and wanted to relate that solder fumes are one of the dangers in the workplace, perhaps somewhat less so for the hobbyist however I thought that I'd at least post the information for all.

Why are solder fume extractors important:
People can become permanently sensitized to solder fumes. As a result continued exposure may cause asthma and other respiratory health issues depending on the amount of exposure.
Employees should be protected from these health risks by using the best fume extraction systems available.
Why fume extraction is essential for personnel:
Worker safety is critically important in soldering applications. A well-designed and maintained dust and fume collection system is needed to prevent respiratory problems and keep facilities in compliance with current air-quality standards. In some cases, a good dust collection and ventilation system can eliminate the need for personal respirators and the challenge of getting
employees to wear them.
Why should companies use fume extraction systems:
Many industrial processes such as soldering, laser processing and welding all produce dust and fumes which are hazardous to health and which can also reduce productivity or increase rejected products. Fumes can also damage expensive production equipment and cause extensive downtime for repair and/or cleaning.
Many local and international health and safety regulations require the employer to protect personnel from hazardous dust and fumes. Failure to do so can result in expensive compensation claims and fines.

■ headaches;
■ fatigue;
■ irritability;
■ constipation;
■ nausea;
■ stomach pains;
■ amnesia
■ dizzyness;
■ loss of weight.
Continued uncontrolled exposure could cause far more serious symptoms such as:
■ kidney damage;
■ nerve and brain damage.
■ cancer lists the following dangers of various types of solder

Solder's greatest danger to health lies in the presence of lead or cadmium in the solder alloy. Historically, lead was present in large amounts in most solder alloys, and some special alloys contained cadmium.

In the past, the four most hazardous metals commonly found during soldering and brazing processes were lead, cadmium, beryllium, and zinc. More recent solder formulations attempt to exclude most of these elements. Some of the potential symptoms and hazards incurred from exposure to these and other elements are listed below (11.6) and current PELs for validated elements are listed in Table 4.

a) Lead:

Lead is used in the soldering process in the form of lead/tin and lead/silver filler metals. When heated, lead oxide fumes are formed. Excessive exposure to lead oxide fumes can result in lead poisoning. Symptoms include loss of appetite, indigestion, nausea, vomiting, constipation, headache, abdominal cramps, nervousness, and insomnia. According to Kirk-Othmer (11.5), lead is absorbed through the mucous membranes of the lung, stomach, or intestines and then enters the bloodstream.

b) Cadmium:

Cadmium is found in some silver and zinc solders, and in some base metals. When heated, cadmium oxide fumes can be generated. Excessive exposure to these fumes can result in cadmium poisoning, symptoms of which include dry cough, irritation of the throat and nasal passages, ulceration of the nose, tightness of chest, restlessness, and renal damage. Cadmium is a suspected carcinogen and a higher incidence of prostate and lung cancers are noted among workers in occupations that use cadmium in their processes.

c) Beryllium:

Beryllium is used in magnesium filler metals for furnace brazing and in some aluminum brazing filler metals. While soldering, temperatures are normally too low to generate fumes from beryllium; however, the heat involved in brazing can generate beryllium fumes, which are extremely hazardous. Short-term exposure to these fumes may result in a chemical pneumonia. Long-term effects include shortness of breath, chronic cough, loss of weight, and fatigue. Beryllium is a suspect human carcinogen.

d) Zinc:

Zinc is used in large amounts in zinc-cadmium and zinc-aluminum solders and in some base metals. When heated, zinc oxide fumes are generated. Excessive exposure to freshly formed zinc oxide fumes can result in an illness called metal-fume fever or "zinc chills." Symptoms include the presence of a sweetish or metallic taste in the mouth, dryness and irritation of the throat, coughing, a feeling of weakness, fatigue, and a general malaise condition similar to the flu.

According to Kirk-Othmer (11.5), zinc or tin chlorides are found in some fluxes.

e) Antimony/tin:

The potential health hazard is moderate because harmful amounts of antimony or tin fumes are not generally formed.

f) Indium:

Although human exposures concerning contact with indium or its compounds have not been reported, animal studies indicate significant lung impairment from respiratory exposures.

g) Other Metals (11.6):

Other trace metals present in base and filler metals which can give off toxic fumes include arsenic, chromium, bismuth, cobalt, nickel, selenium, thallium, and vanadium. It should be noted that a specific PEL has not been assigned to bismuth at this time. NIOSH has stated that arsenic is a suspected lung and lymphatic carcinogen, and hexavalent chromium is a suspected lung carcinogen. The amount of fumes generated from these trace metals is usually small, and hazardous concentrations are not normally found in these operations. Soldering and brazing with filler or base metals containing these trace elements should be conducted in well-ventilated areas to be certain that hazardous concentrations do not exist. Compounds of these metals may also be present.

In other words, please ventilate as much as possible or consider a fume extraction product designed to eliminate these harmful vapors, especially if you are frequently exposed.
Jun 08, 2009, 09:30 AM
Registered User

one more thing

From personal experience as a hobbyist another crucial safety device for a soldering iron should be a breathalyzer; if you blow over than no soldering for you!