Soldering is a technique that uses a high-heat tool to liquefy metal and attach other metal components to circuit boards and industrial products. A trained soldering professional is the only one who should ever operate a soldering iron. This is because soldering involves several serious hazards that could cause injury and even death.
Soldering releases fumes when the solder, also called flux, is heated. Solder is made up of a variety of chemicals, one of which is colophon, a chemical derived from pine trees. When colophon is burnt, it releases other chemicals which are harmful if you exposed in large doses over time. Some solder is also made with hydrochloric acid, benzene, phenol and styrene, all of which are harmful chemicals. These chemicals can cause eye and nose irritation, damage to the air passages and respiratory problems.
Soldering irons must reach temperatures that are hot enough to liquefy metal. This means that the irons can be as hot as 538 degrees Celsius (1000 degrees Fahrenheit), more than enough to cause third-degree burns in milliseconds. Burn accidents can be extremely painful and can cause serious damage to tissues, which take a long time to heal and are expensive to treat.
Lead is a toxic metal that is used as a component in many types of solder. Once lead enters the body, it is not removed through normal body processes, such as excretion or perspiration. Prolonged exposure to lead fumes and ingestion of lead particles can cause skin diseases, respiratory complications, allergic reactions, headaches/dizziness and other problems.
Precautions and safety measures
For flux fumes, the best hazard prevention method is a spot-suction system that removes the fumes before they can be inhaled. Also, the solder technician should always wear a mask when working. For burn hazards, the technician should always wear protective clothing and should always be aware of when the soldering iron is on and off. For lead hazards, the technician should develop the habit of washing his hands thoroughly and often after soldering. Also, no food should be consumed or even brought into the soldering area.