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April 27, 2018

Welcome to the April 2018 Design Chain Associates E-mail Newsletter!

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More Substance Restrictions in RoHS?

The Stakeholder consultation held as part of a "Study to support the review of the list of restricted substances and to assess a new exemption request under [EU] RoHS 2 (Pack 15)" is now open! There are separate consultation pages for each of the substances under assessment:

The first five are widely used in a wide variety of consumer, commercial and industrial EEE. The latter two are either intermediate process chemicals (which, IMHO, have no place in the scope of RoHS since they do not appear in the finished EEE - for instance, the Nickel Institute says "Those nickel salts are converted into metallic nickel in surface treatment (i.e. plating) during a galvanization process. They do not occur in electronic and electrical equipment, neither during use nor during end of life.") or are used in a much narrower scope of product types.

The objective of this initial consultation is to collect specific technical information about where these substances are used, quantities, substitutability, and so on. Participation in this process is, to me, not optional for those manufacturers whose products incorporate any of these substances. This is important.

Digital Europe is leading teams on most of these. Others may be as well. The comment period closes June 15. Contact me for more info or for assistance.

The Problem with Product Safety Engineering

I've worked with Product Safety Engineers for decades. They have a fascinating and unique challenge - to constrain the work of product design engineers and ensure that the products the company sells are "safe", per various IEC (and other) standards. Product safety typically (I'm looking at IEC 62368-1:2014) entails a broad range of disciplines: mechanical, electrical, optical, acoustic, radiation and thermal safety. They even cover "hazardous substance" safety, but only to the extent that it's "acute" - like a chemical burn caused by a strong acid. The breadth of knowledge safety engineers must have is substantial. But it rarely extends into toxicological safety. And that's a problem.

Solving a flammability problem inexpensively is an awesome accomplishment. But using a toxic chemical to do it simply results in a different type of "safety" problem - an environmental or human health safety issue. Manufacturers, review how you are implementing your Product Safety Engineering and Environmetal Regulatory Compliance organizations. There's an overlap many of you are missing. Read the editorial I published in ChemicalWatch last month and let me know what you think.


The Gulf Cooperation Council comprises six Member States in the Middle East: United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait. Sort of like the European Union, the GCC drives commonality in regulatory regimens, among other things, across the six countries.

Last year we experienced UAE RoHS; late last month, the GCC issued a draft of a similar regulation through the WTO TBT committee. Compliance & Risks has done quite a laudable job assessing the regulation, so I won't do so here.

But what I will do is to urge you to comment. A trend is developing among new implementations of RoHS that go well beyond the EU's requirements by demanding a formal third party assessment of product conformity. In my opinion neither the information infrastructure nor knowledge base exists that would enable certification bodies to review any given set of technical documentation and guarantee that they would come to the same conclusion. Furthermore we are not seeing broad, substantial and frequent evidence that products are non-compliant. What, therefore, is the rationale for this new and onerous requirement? Governments continue to feel the need to regulate the industry; the electronics industry continues to not be in a position to control its own regulatory destiny. Why do you think that is?

New! Guest Item - Japan: New Requirements for Portable Li-Ion Battery Packs

Japan METI - Portable Lithium Ion Storage Batteries (Mobile Batteries) to be regulated under the Electrical Appliances and Materials Safety Act. Effective February 1, 2019

There is a change in regulation for "portable Li-ion batteries", considered as mobile battery or as power bank which have been previously treated as components within an end-product containing Li-ion batteries and have been excluded from the scope of DENAN. As a result of increased fire incidents, METI has come to the conclusion that such "mobile Li-ion batteries" are in the scope and the DENAN law and PSE Circle Mark must be applied to the batteries effective February 1, 2019. You can find METI's announcement here.

Please note that the previous exemptions to the DENAN Law still apply:
From List of Non-Specified Electrical Appliance and Materials, item 12: the requirements apply to "Lithium-ion batteries (limited to those consisting of secondary cell of which energy density is not less than 400Wh/L, but excluding those used for automobiles, motorcycles, medical appliances, industrial appliances)".

--Thank you to Peter Merguerian, president of Go Global Compliance, for this entry.
You can reach Peter at +1.408.416.3772, or email him at

San Francisco Flame Retardant Restrictions

As noted in a DCA Alert issued last October 19, The Flame Retardant Chemicals in Upholstered Furniture and Juvenile Products Ordinance (Ordinance) was signed by the Mayor on November 3rd, 2017 and will go into effect on January 1, 2019. The ordinance prohibits the sale of upholstered furniture and certain juvenile products that contains or is made with a flame retardant chemical at a level above 1,000 parts per million. Covered products with electrical or electronic components containing or made with a flame retardant chemical at a level above 1,000 parts per million shall comply beginning July 1, 2019.

A Public Hearing was held on Monday, April 23 to introduce and take stakeholder comments on the San Francisco Department of the Environment Draft Regulation Proposed Regulations Implementing the Flame Retardant Chemicals in Upholstered Furniture and Juvenile Products Ordinance. The key point of the Proposed Regulations is to define a process for petitioning the Department for a waiver. Electrical and electronic components in - for example - upholstered furniture, such as motors and controllers, must contain flame retardants if any of their components are produced from flammable plastics or other materials. Any manufacturer of such a product should review the waiver process and comment, as well as consider whether redesign to eliminate most, if not all, flame retardants is possible.

The comment period is open through May 4.

Note that a bill was recently introduced into the California Assembly that would effectively make this a state-wide requirement.

DCA Articles & DCA In The News

April 2, 2017 TTI MarketEYE: The Chemical Regulatory Potpourri Continues for Electronics. SCCPs, California Proposition 65, Evaluation and SVHCs - oh my!

March 13, 2018 ChemicalWatch Manufacturing CEOs: closing the product safety gap. What can happen when manufacturers fail to incorporate chemical human health and environmental impact into their safety-related engineering function. You can now read this here.

Events to Attend

May 14-16, 2018: San Jose, CA. 2018 IEEE Symposium on Product Safety Engineering. Mike will discuss the relationship between Product Safety Engineering and Product Environmental/Human Health Safety and Compliance.

June 18-20, 2018: Portland, OR. ACS Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference. Mike co-chairs a session on the semiconductor and electronics industries. Find out what is "forward-thinking" in the electronics industry and be a part of the discussion. This will be an extremely interesting session - make plans to come to Portland now!!

More to come! Stay tuned.

Contact and Feedback

We value your feedback and insights on the topics in this newsletter and anything else we're involved with. You can contact us at the number below, or simply reply to this e-mail.

This newsletter covers only a fraction of how we support our clients. DCA offers expertise and consulting services in all the areas covered above, as well as many others. Please contact us to discuss your needs.

Best Regards,
Michael Kirschner

Design Chain Associates LLC


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