Dangerous Substances  
  The following section is not intended as an absolute guide to electronics safety. Many factors, most of which are beyond the control of this author, contribute to the degree of hazard that you are subject to while working on electronic circuits. Use care and critical judgement at all times. Safety is your personal responsibility!
 
The materials used in electronics were selected for specific characteristics such as high dielectric strength, good electrical conductivity, poor electrical conductivity, good thermal conductivity, low melting point, etc. Since most electronics manufacturing is performed in industrial environments, it is assumed that dangerous substances will be treated appropriately. Electronics hobbyists have no "safety department" to keep them healthy. An awareness of materials hazards is therefore important to the individual experimenter.
 
Hazardous electronics materials can be divided into the following categories:
  1. Dangerous when ingested
  2. Dangerous when inhaled
  3. Dangerous when absorbed through the skin
Dangerous When Ingested
 
Ever heard of "Lead Poisoning"? Lead, like many other metals, accumulates in the body. Excess lead causes significant health problems, including loss of mental functions. Solder is an alloy (mainly tin and lead). Don't stick the solder in your mouth! It will make you stupid!
 
Here are some other substances you don't want to ingest:
  • Soldering flux
  • Flux remover
  • Heat sink grease
  • Locktite
  • Ceramic Insulators
When working on electronics, keep your mouth shut, and keep your hands away from your face!
 
Dangerous When Inhaled
 
Fumes from solvents are generally bad for you. The smoke from soldering (vaporized flux) is unpleasant and caustic. Dust from filing plastic or glass-epoxy circuit boards is bad for your lungs. Good ventilation and sensible use of dust masks can minimize these hazards.
 
Dangerous When Absorbed Through the Skin
 
Most solvents are easily absorbed through the skin, into the blood stream, and on to the liver and/or kidneys. Since these solvents are poisons that you wouldn't drink, why let them into your body via an alternate path? Remember that the following substances fall into this category:
  • Denatured Alcohol
  • Acetone
  • Paint Thinner
  • Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK)
  • Plastic Glues
  • Flux Remover
Disposable latex gloves are very cheap (5 cents each), especially compared to a kidney transplant! Invest in a box full, and wear them.
 
 

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