Author Topic: Air quality alarm for soldering  (Read 2626 times)

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Offline higheredundeadTopic starter

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Air quality alarm for soldering
« on: October 02, 2023, 11:31:58 pm »
Does anyone have a recommendation for an air quality alarm in a soldering environment to alert people if the existing filtration or ventilation is insufficient?
 

Online langwadt

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Re: Air quality alarm for soldering
« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2023, 11:50:00 pm »
Does anyone have a recommendation for an air quality alarm in a soldering environment to alert people if the existing filtration or ventilation is insufficient?

what's your definition of insufficient?
 

Offline higheredundeadTopic starter

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Re: Air quality alarm for soldering
« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2023, 02:10:02 am »
Sure.  Let's go with OSHA standard: 50 micrograms of lead / cubic meter.  There could be other things to measure, too, like VOCs from the flux.  But we can start with lead.
 

Online Someone

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Re: Air quality alarm for soldering
« Reply #3 on: October 03, 2023, 02:33:48 am »
Lead in air, that's a spectrometer based method sampling the physical dust/particulates (on a filter pad).

how many kilo dollar-pounds do you have spare?
 

Online Kim Christensen

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Re: Air quality alarm for soldering
« Reply #4 on: October 03, 2023, 02:58:14 am »
Sure.  Let's go with OSHA standard: 50 micrograms of lead / cubic meter.  There could be other things to measure, too, like VOCs from the flux.  But we can start with lead.

You don't really get lead fumes from soldering. VOCs and other nasties from the flux are the real danger.
The lead poisoning comes from getting it on your fingers and then ingesting it via nail biting or not washing hands before eating.
 
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Offline higheredundeadTopic starter

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Re: Air quality alarm for soldering
« Reply #5 on: October 03, 2023, 09:31:55 am »
So, then, with flux, there are general VOC air quality sensors that we can get from Home Depot and other sources.

We generally assume that our desktop filters with the activated carbon filters are catching the VOCs.  I'm looking for an air quality sensor that would kick in if the activated carbon filter was, say, used up or misaligned and not doing its job.  Any suggestions on one that works specifically well with flux?
 

Offline higheredundeadTopic starter

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Re: Air quality alarm for soldering
« Reply #6 on: October 03, 2023, 01:26:04 pm »
As for lead in the air, it appears that OSHA does believe that it can occur.  Reference: https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/standardinterpretations/1989-07-11-0

Like many of you I am also aware of lead getting onto hands and surfaces and so am careful about washing my hands after coming into contact with solder.  It seems, however, that it's not just flux that gets into the air.  It's possible for lead fumes to, as well.

Other studies have pointed to inhalation of lead during and around soldering:

* https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jolsana-Augustine/publication/332188022_SOLDERING_FUME_EXPOSURE_AS_A_CAUSE_OF_ACUTE_HYPERSENSITIVITY_PNEUMONITIS/links/5d63dae9458515d610259517/SOLDERING-FUME-EXPOSURE-AS-A-CAUSE-OF-ACUTE-HYPERSENSITIVITY-PNEUMONITIS.pdf
* https://www.scientific.net/AMM.319.115

I get that it's not generally spoken about or worried about and that we assume that our existing ventilation and filtration approaches are working, but, as an engineer, I'm a big fan of measuring things rather than just making assumptions.  If I measure it and my worries are overblown, then I've learned something.
 

Offline Ice-Tea

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Re: Air quality alarm for soldering
« Reply #7 on: October 03, 2023, 01:33:56 pm »
I have the Mill sense at the office for VOCs.

YMMV  ^-^
 
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Online Jackster

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Re: Air quality alarm for soldering
« Reply #8 on: October 03, 2023, 04:08:24 pm »
I have the Amazon Alexa Air Quality Monitor and it works well.
Alerts me if there is bad air quality.

Was about £45 on PrimeDay.
Does VOC, PM2.5, temp and humidity.

Unfortunately it is locked down and requires the Alexa app but meh.

Offline jonpaul

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Re: Air quality alarm for soldering
« Reply #9 on: October 03, 2023, 04:24:27 pm »
Made by Nature: Human nose!

Open window turn on A/C, get a soldering fume filter like the fine Hakko

j
Jean-Paul  the Internet Dinosaur
 

Online RoGeorge

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Re: Air quality alarm for soldering
« Reply #10 on: October 03, 2023, 04:56:17 pm »
It's not that dangerous, no need for alarms.  For just in case, learn how to "Extreme Breath Holding", then you'll be able to keep your breath up to 15 minutes, a quarter of an hour!

Extreme Breath-Holding
Veritasium



Now seriously, you can breath normal.  There is no danger.  I know people that soldered 8 hours a day for 30 years and they are still around and just fine.

Offline ajb

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Re: Air quality alarm for soldering
« Reply #11 on: October 03, 2023, 06:50:08 pm »
Now seriously, you can breath normal.  There is no danger.  I know people that soldered 8 hours a day for 30 years and they are still around and just fine.

Ahh yes, the unassailable authority of "just trust me bro".  How very helpful.

As for lead in the air, it appears that OSHA does believe that it can occur.  Reference: https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/standardinterpretations/1989-07-11-0

Like many of you I am also aware of lead getting onto hands and surfaces and so am careful about washing my hands after coming into contact with solder.  It seems, however, that it's not just flux that gets into the air.  It's possible for lead fumes to, as well.

Other studies have pointed to inhalation of lead during and around soldering:

* https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jolsana-Augustine/publication/332188022_SOLDERING_FUME_EXPOSURE_AS_A_CAUSE_OF_ACUTE_HYPERSENSITIVITY_PNEUMONITIS/links/5d63dae9458515d610259517/SOLDERING-FUME-EXPOSURE-AS-A-CAUSE-OF-ACUTE-HYPERSENSITIVITY-PNEUMONITIS.pdf
* https://www.scientific.net/AMM.319.115

That last link is the only one that seems to quantify metallic fumes in the air as a result of soldering.  Full text is here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3652541/

From the materials and methods section, emphasis mine:
Quote
Experimental groups were exposed to colophony solder flux fumes generated manually for one hour/day (13:00 - 14:00) and directed into a plexy glass exposure chamber. The exposure chamber had an internal volume of 0.83m3 connected to a 200 cm long hood inlet and outlet, which was ventilated 5 - 6 times per hour. The feeding rate of the manual solder wire was 5 m/minute. The chamber temperature was 22 ± 2℃. Zahedan University of Medical Sciences Ethics Committee approved the experimental design.

Air samples from the exposure chamber were collected daily using the SKC personal pump (SKC 224-EE, UK) and analyzed for fume concentrations of formaldehyde, Sn and Pb. The concentrations of solder fumes were 0.193 mg/m3, 0.35 mg/m3 and 3 mg/m3 and for formaldehyde, Sn and Pb, respectively. All measurements were obtained in accordance with methods described by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (ASTM, D4185-90, NIOSH 3500 and OSHA 206) using a visible absorption spectrophotometer (Spectronic 20D, Milton Ray, Belgium) and atomic absorption spectrophotometer (ATI/Unicam, 929, USA) (14-16). The soldering wire (alloy 63/67, 0.8 mm diameter, Jarfe Company, Iran) was commercially available.

So, 3mg/m3 is 60x the OSHA limit cited by the OP of 50μg/m3, but 5m/min--aka 300m for each of the 1hr exposure periods--is a LOT of solder.  Other factors missing from the methods section:
  • what temperature the solder was melted at
  • type and ratio of flux in the solder wire
  • whether "ventilated 5-6 times per hour" means the chamber was vented continuously with an exchange rate of 5-6 chamber volumes per hour, or the chamber was only ventilated for 5-6 periods during each exposure hour

How significant those factors would be is hard to say, but the sheer amount of solder consumed per hour, and the amount of air it's diffused into, is a significant difference between the experimental design and most realities.  Some very VERY rough math follows: A length of 300m of 0.8mm 63/37, generously assuming 5% flux, is 1200g.  The actual amount of lead in the air based on the samples works out to 3mg/m3 * 0.83m3 = 2.5mg.  So under whatever their ventilation conditions where, that works out to an exposure rate of 2μg/m3 per 1g/hr of solder.  Going the other way, under the same conditions, consuming 25g/hr of solder would put you around the 50μg/m3 OSHA limit.  Of course in real world conditions that's multiplied by the larger air volume and whatever ventilation rate applies.

Another factor in exposure is what happens to that vaporized lead.  If it stays in the volume until it settles and accumulates on surfaces, you now have the possibility of contact exposure, which can result in ingestion.  If it reacts with other molecules in the air, does it end up forming compounds that are more or less biologically significant?  I'm not much at chemistry or biology, so I have no idea. 

While I'm sure that tin/copper/silver/whatever vapors are not exactly good for you, it's all good reason to avoid leaded solder when there are readily available and well-established materials and methods to avoid it entirely.  You still have to ventilate for flux fumes anyway, of course, but unless you have one of the handful of applications where leaded solder is really hard to replace, why introduce a hazard that's fairly easy to avoid? 
« Last Edit: October 03, 2023, 06:59:25 pm by ajb »
 
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Offline loki42

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Re: Air quality alarm for soldering
« Reply #12 on: October 04, 2023, 12:31:11 pm »
It's not that dangerous, no need for alarms.  For just in case, learn how to "Extreme Breath Holding", then you'll be able to keep your breath up to 15 minutes, a quarter of an hour!

Extreme Breath-Holding
Veritasium



Now seriously, you can breath normal.  There is no danger.  I know people that soldered 8 hours a day for 30 years and they are still around and just fine.

I hope this last bit is a joke too. 

The best way to avoid lead from solder is not use the silly old fashioned stuff.  100c is nicer to use anyway and comes with modern fluxes and ball sizes. 

I had pretty serious eye problems from flux fumes many years ago but now I've got good fume extraction. Air quality monitoring sounds like a good idea given the low cost of some solutions even though calibration might be challenging.
 
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Offline higheredundeadTopic starter

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Re: Air quality alarm for soldering
« Reply #13 on: October 04, 2023, 01:24:55 pm »
Yes, that's pretty much where I'm at.  The solutions are low cost and if they come from factory calibrated, then they should be good.  Moving away from lead is fine and there's still flux (so assuming VOCs are an issue).

There are solutions out there for detecting vaping in schools (like Canaree that will do both VOC and particulate matter: https://pierasystems.com/products/canaree-i5/) so it might work in a soldering (even lead free) environment, but it hasn't been directly tested for that.

 

Online thm_w

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Re: Air quality alarm for soldering
« Reply #14 on: October 04, 2023, 09:16:01 pm »
The alexa air monitor or Ikea air monitor ($10) should be fine for basic check, in a hobby environment. Lots on aliexpress as well. See the many threads on here for how to build or buy a proper filter/ventilation. Which I assume you will do or have done already.
If you are doing some sort of required workplace monitoring, get a proper certified particulate meter.

That last link is the only one that seems to quantify metallic fumes in the air as a result of soldering.  Full text is here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3652541/

The oddity with this study is they keep mentioning and referencing welding. I know that "welding" can be a translation for soldering in some languages, but they literally cite metal welding studies. Then mention 63/37 solder at the end. Weird.

Here are some other studies:
Quote
soldering fume < 0.5-1.1 mg/m3, Cu < 0.003-0.034 mg/m3, Pb < 0.014-0.037 mg/m3, Sn < 0.15 mg/m3, Sb < 0.035 mg/m3;
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12701538/

Quote
Chamber atmosphere showed released mean Pb mass of 0.0238 ± 0.011 μg and mean airborne concentration of 0.176 ± 0.085 μg/m3. Of the total solder mass used in two trials, on average 4.65% was recovered from the tip cleaning sponge and 0.14% dropped onto the work surface, with a surface loading rate of 0.30–0.45 μg/cm2. The estimated fingertip surface area in contact with solder wire was 14.7 cm2, with a measured average Pb mass of 14.9 μg, and a corresponding dermal loading rate of 1.01 μg/cm2. The waste solder dross surface area determined from digital micrographs in each trial were 1.65 and 2.43 cm2, with corresponding Pb density of 714 and 610 mg/cm2 and >90% of the detected dross mass comprising particles >100 μm in the widest dimension. Corresponding increases in blood Pb levels estimated using physiologically-based pharmacokinetic modeling were negligible compared with background. These findings demonstrate very low Pb emissions to air and surfaces during intensive manual microelectronic soldering activities.
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10807039.2020.1730690 (available on scihub)
« Last Edit: October 04, 2023, 09:18:02 pm by thm_w »
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Offline tooki

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Re: Air quality alarm for soldering
« Reply #15 on: October 08, 2023, 02:12:26 pm »
As for lead in the air, it appears that OSHA does believe that it can occur.  Reference: https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/standardinterpretations/1989-07-11-0

Like many of you I am also aware of lead getting onto hands and surfaces and so am careful about washing my hands after coming into contact with solder.  It seems, however, that it's not just flux that gets into the air.  It's possible for lead fumes to, as well.

Other studies have pointed to inhalation of lead during and around soldering:

* https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jolsana-Augustine/publication/332188022_SOLDERING_FUME_EXPOSURE_AS_A_CAUSE_OF_ACUTE_HYPERSENSITIVITY_PNEUMONITIS/links/5d63dae9458515d610259517/SOLDERING-FUME-EXPOSURE-AS-A-CAUSE-OF-ACUTE-HYPERSENSITIVITY-PNEUMONITIS.pdf
* https://www.scientific.net/AMM.319.115

I get that it's not generally spoken about or worried about and that we assume that our existing ventilation and filtration approaches are working, but, as an engineer, I'm a big fan of measuring things rather than just making assumptions.  If I measure it and my worries are overblown, then I've learned something.
The thing is, none of those sources mention what temperatures are used. Electronics soldering is performed at low temperatures, where lead is unlikely or even incapable of vaporizing. (Some sources say 400C, others 450C, others 500C, all much higher than normally used in electronics with leaded solder.) In contrast, a sheet metal worker soldering copper would typically use a blow torch, whose flame is around 2000C, easily capable of heating small amounts of solder well into vaporization temperatures. Since none of those sources even specify what kind of soldering it is, we have no clue what temperature range they were considering.

I concur that in electronics soldering, the real concern is flux fumes.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2023, 02:14:56 pm by tooki »
 

Offline tooki

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Re: Air quality alarm for soldering
« Reply #16 on: October 08, 2023, 02:59:55 pm »
 

Offline Pinkus

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Re: Air quality alarm for soldering
« Reply #17 on: October 08, 2023, 04:29:40 pm »
I do have two air quality monitors, one of them is portable and quite old.
The stationary one is this:https://www.amazon.de/gp/product/B09LCLYXJ6

Beside several parameters, they are measuring small particles in the air. Both were (the non portable one still is) used in my workshop. I can tell you: Both of them alert after aprox. 15 minutes when you do manual soldering. When I run my soldering oven (which even has a fume outlet to the outside! but some can still smell it if reflowing) they both will alert me very quickly. I need to run my air cleaner with hepa filter and activated carbon filter on full power for a while to clean the air.
These small particles from soldering can reach the alveoli. They are at most the size of bacteria and therefore cannot be seen with the naked eye. The particles have a tendency to carry toxic materials due to its reduced diameter and increased surface area. The small PM easily penetrates deep into the bronchi and alveoli, corroding the alveolar wall in the lungs.
In epidemiological studies, severe health effects are associated with particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers.
I can only smile when people take a fan to blow away the soldering fumes .... they breathe in the fume parts 30 seconds later anyway, as it spreads in the air throughout the room. Only a decent air cleaner can help.
By the way, I can recommend a Weller WFE solder fume extraction, mounted directly to my JBC soldering iron - this sucks (and filters) away already >90% of the soldering fumes directly at the soldering tip, immediately after the occurrence.
And I can highly recommend any (even if cheap) air quality monitor if it checks PM 2.5 particles (needs a small pump inside to constantly suck in air). And there will be no way around an air cleaner with HEPA filter.
But of course there will also be those here who think it would not be necessary because they know people who have been soldering for 30 years without any problems without such newfangled stuff  ::).
 
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