IPC Halogen Free Issues Website

Welcome to IPC's Halogen Free website. Over the last few years, we have seen an increasing interest in Halogen Free electronics. While some say this is a "green" or environmental trend, others have called it a marketing ploy dressed in green clothes. IPC has investigated the issues and issued a white paper. Much of the drive towards this trend has been driven by Japanese and European firms. While most manufacturers have halogen free resin offerings, they have little to no US sales.

There is much confusion about halogen free electronics. One issue is what "halogen free" means. While the IEC has defined halogen free based on levels of chlorine and bromine, those familiar with the periodic table point out that there are three other halogens: fluorine, iodine, and astatine. While astatine is not known to be used in electronics, fluorine is a key constituent in Teflon® based circuit boards.

Another area of confusion concerns brominated flame retardants (BFRs). When used in electronic equipment, flame retardants save lives and reduce property damage by preventing the spread of flame and fire. Fire statistics suggest that the risk of death or injury from fires involving consumer products can be reduced 30 to 90 percent or more by using flame retardants. There is, however, a growing concern regarding the health and environmental effects of certain brominated flame retardants. Unfortunately, many studies, papers, and press releases are misleading because they treat flame retardants as a single entity, instead of the broad class of 75 different chemicals, many of which have been proven safe.

But BFRs are not the only source of halogens in printed circuit boards (PCBs). Most PCB resins are epoxies and epoxy resins contain measurable levels of chlorine. Additional halogens are added to PCB laminates through glass sizes, wetting agents, curing agents and resin accelerators.