The Environmental Cost of Printed Circuit Boards

Printed circuit boards are the physical structures on which electronics components are mounted. Manufacturing is divided into five steps: board preparation, application of conductive coatings, soldering, fabrication and assembly. These steps produce the following wastes.

CloudAir Pollutants

  • particulates
  • acid fumes
  • ammonia fumes
  • organic vapors
  • CFCs, or chlorofloro carbons

LakeWaste Stream Pollutants

  • acid and alkaline solutions
  • electroless copper baths
  • catalyst solutions
  • developing solutions
  • resist material
  • etchants
  • aqueous metals
  • plating baths
  • metals, including nickel, silver, copper, lead
  • flux residue
  • deionized water

Other Wastes

  • sludge
  • scrap board metal
  • waste rinse water
  • solder
  • filters
  • gloves

The electronics industry uses tetrabromobisophenol-A (TBBA) to produce fire-resistant printed circuit boards. Methyl bromide, a pesticide classified as a category I acute toxin and a potent ozone depleter, is a byproduct of TBBA.

Alternatives: Principles for a Just and Sustainable Industry

Sources: EPA, 1995. The Bromide Barons, Political
Ecology Group and Transnational Resource & Action Center, forthcoming March 1997.

For more information, contact:

Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition

760 N. First Street

San Jose, CA 95112

Phone: (408) 287-6707

Fax: (408) 287-6771


AMP Section Name:Technology & Telecommunications
  • 192 Technology & Telecommunications
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