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The Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive is a standard set by the European Union early in the millennium that determines the aspects of engineering for exported goods to the EU or for goods made in the EU. The directive went into effect in 2006. It is part of a more general set of guidelines for limiting the amounts of toxic materials in electronics and similar types of products.
At its core, RoHS is meant to restrict the way that certain substances are used in electronic products. These include lead, cadmium, mercury, hexavalent chromium and other heavy metals, as well as similar elements that can be hazardous to human health and the environment. The directive limits the quantity of these materials in manufactured products, for example, <0.01% for cadmium and hexavalent chromium, 0.1% for lead, 100 ppm for mercury, etc.
To enforce the directive, companies are required to test their products and ensure that they meet RoHS standards. This also involves training employees about RoHS regulations and learning about how RoHS affects the sale, manufacture and export of consumer goods. Companies often advertise their products as RoHS compliant, along with other compliance standards such as the Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) standard that applies in the United States.