Senseless Regulations


I rarely complain about regulations.  I know that many, if not most of them are really for the best. We know what happens when there isn’t any oversight at all.  But once in a while, I have a real WTF moment.

RoHS, or Reduction of Hazardous Substances is in general a “good thing”. It means to not use chemicals or components that are toxic, or hazardous to the environment. Whether this is removing lead from solder in electronics, or not using hexavalent chromium (google it – nasty shit). But sometimes it goes too far.

Case in point. Many microscope objectives fail. They use optical elements made from leaded glass.  They use these components and materials because adding lead to glass increases the refractive index, and improves the performance of the optic. Fine, I get it that there is nasty lead in these parts.

But the risk is so low that any of this lead will ever be released into the environment. It would require that the glass be removed from the objective, vaporized, and then, and only then would a couple micrograms of lead be released into the environment.

Common sense would tell you that this is such a small risk of exposure that microscope objectives provide would lead to an exemption. No such luck. So, you get to go to a design with crappy performance and resolution that costs nearly 2X what the standard objectives would provide.  Groan.

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By geoffand


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August 2012

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