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Hazards of Old Electronics

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chriswhitehead

#1
:mg:

We have loads of old electronic instrumentations in our stores that could be 30 years old. I'm tring to convince our management that its dangersous. We have already had a 30 years oscilloscope start smoking. I'm arguing that the caps are failing and the mains are not filtered or protected. They just think because this equipment passes pat tests then every thing is okay. Should we be condemning 30 year old electonic instrument such as psu's, scope, amps, sig gen, etc?


:deadhorse:

:thanx:
 
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silentrunning

#2
If they are still in regular use, maybe you can perform a gage R&R on them and prove that they are not accurate enough for today's standards.

I would get rid of them simply because of some of the chemicals that may be present in the transformers and other components. They could be a health hazard as well as a fire hazard.
 
T

tomvehoski

#3
Old does not necessarily mean hazardous or obsolete. A brand new oscilloscope could start smoking too. As long as there is nothing like frayed wires, pennies used to replace fuses, etc. there is no reason to get rid of something that is perfectly functional just because it is not of the newest vintage.
 

Mikishots

Trusted Information Resource
#4
Old does not necessarily mean hazardous or obsolete. A brand new oscilloscope could start smoking too. As long as there is nothing like frayed wires, pennies used to replace fuses, etc. there is no reason to get rid of something that is perfectly functional just because it is not of the newest vintage.
Your point is not invalid, but comparing "30 years old" to "the newest vintage" may be a bit unfair. Energy concerns may also be valid - not just in consumption, but in possible damage when something goes. A CRT blowing is more to worry about that an LCD blowing.
 
S

silentrunning

#5
Old does not necessarily mean hazardous or obsolete. A brand new oscilloscope could start smoking too. As long as there is nothing like frayed wires, pennies used to replace fuses, etc. there is no reason to get rid of something that is perfectly functional just because it is not of the newest vintage.
It may not "necessairly mean" they will be hazardous etc., but there is a lot better chance for malfunction with a 30 year old piece of equipment than new state of the art gear. One of the first things I look at when I audit one of our suppliers is their equipment. I don't want to have to wait for an order because they are waiting for a part for an antiquated piece of equipment.
 
#6
Hi

Since you are referring to 30 years old products, I would expect that:

a) Printed circuit boards (FR-2/FR-4 laminates and the like) contain banned bromo- or chloro- organic compounds (e.g. PBBE, PBB etc)
b) Many of the passive component (it is possible that these equipments were made with leaded components and not with Surface mounted ones) contain banned substances like Cadmium, Chromium (VI), Lead etc.
c) If the PCB has "electrolytic capacitors", there is also a possibility of drying of the electrolyte and the consequent "bursting" of the component
d) PVC in insulators etc., is potentially harmful in case of fire

With kind regards

Ramakrishnan
 

Mikishots

Trusted Information Resource
#7
Hi

Since you are referring to 30 years old products, I would expect that:

a) Printed circuit boards (FR-2/FR-4 laminates and the like) contain banned bromo- or chloro- organic compounds (e.g. PBBE, PBB etc)
b) Many of the passive component (it is possible that these equipments were made with leaded components and not with Surface mounted ones) contain banned substances like Cadmium, Chromium (VI), Lead etc.
c) If the PCB has "electrolytic capacitors", there is also a possibility of drying of the electrolyte and the consequent "bursting" of the component
d) PVC in insulators etc., is potentially harmful in case of fire

With kind regards

Ramakrishnan
This is understood, but a bit off topic; if you scrapped the device today or decided to use it for a year or two more, the harmful materials remain. It makes no difference.
 
#8
HI

The point that I wanted to make is that in those days we did not consider these chemical hazards in the products. The present day products (governed by RoHS and similar legislation all over the world) are not likely to have these chemical substances. As a person who was involved in developing electronics products without these hazardous substances I thought I would highlight this important issue.

It is not off the subject; the hazard is related to the chemical substances present in the product and such products can cause more health issues in case of fire accidents (fire can take place any time; also note Chris refers to oscilloscope starting to smoke). It does make a difference if you consider the possibility of fire in the store.

With regards

Ramakrishnan
 
Last edited:

Mikishots

Trusted Information Resource
#9
HI

The point that I wanted to make is that in those days we did not consider these chemical hazards in the products. The present day products (governed by RoHS and similar legislation all over the world) are not likely to have these chemical substances. As a person who was involved in developing electronics products without these hazardous substances I thought I would highlight this important issue.

It is not off the subject; the hazard is related to the chemical substances present in the product and such products can cause more health issues in case of fire accidents (fire can take place any time; also note Chris refers to oscilloscope starting to smoke). It does make a difference if you consider the possibility of fire in the store.

With regards

Ramakrishnan
Yes, he mentioned that the scope was smoking - but his last sentence was general, not specifically referring to that device. Applying a specific scenario as being the case for all his devices is off topic.

I have no intention of continuing this; I agree that a hazard is present, but I will also maintain that just be cause it "can" doesn't mean it "will".
 
S

silentrunning

#10
I thank Dr .Ramakrishnan for his thoughtful input on this topic. I find that people can often add new insight into a potential problem that hasn't been brought up yet and in no way do I consider that "off topic".
 
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