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RoHS | May 19, 2008

IPC initiates scientific dialogue on<br>proposed RoHS expansion

US based IPC is urging all technical experts from member companies and other stakeholders in the electronics industry to participate in a special meeting on June 18, 2008, in Brussels to discuss their concerns about RoHS expansion.
IPC also plans call for representatives of the European Commission to attend the meeting.

In a letter sent to its members last week, IPC detailed its concerns about the Draft Report issued by the Öko Institute, the organization retained by the EU Commission to study the inclusion of additional substance restrictions in the RoHS Directive, and the Institute’s biased and flawed methodologies.

In its report, the Institute went beyond the framework initially set by the EU Commission and created new criteria and categories for inclusion within the RoHS Directive, proposing now that substances observed in the environment and with concerns about combustion should be prohibited under RoHS. This includes Tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA), the flame retardant used to protect more than 80 percent of printed circuit boards and found to be safe by a comprehensive European Union Risk Assessment. In addition to TBBPA, the Institute suggests banning Hexabromocylcododecanes (HBCDD), several phthalate plasticizers, and all organic compounds containing chlorine and bromine.

IPC’s letter to its membership also reveals that Institute staff denied IPC permission to attend a workshop it held for discussion of the report due to the fact that only “scientific experts were invited.” The Institute’s clear disregard of the technical expertise within IPC and its membership coupled with its ambition to expand the scope of criteria beyond the EU Commission’s original intent sends concerns throughout the industry that scientific evidence is not driving the basis of the report.

While the Institute chose to exclude some stakeholders from their meeting, IPC believes it is critical for all scientific evidence to be presented and is hopeful that its special meeting in Brussels will provide industry experts with an avenue to present their technical findings before a final decision is made by the EU Commission.

Furthermore, IPC supports the ongoing objectives of unifying European chemicals regulation through REACH, opposing the Institute’s concern for the need of more focused legislation on electronic and electrical equipment. The Institute’s position for RoHS expansion would be largely inconsistent with the implementation of REACH, which is meant to be an overarching policy.

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