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The Purpose of Fume Extraction
This article is based on an original publication by Hakko.
Solder technicians inhaling flux smoke for prolonged periods of time may develop short- and long-term respiratory illnesses, eye irritations, headaches and more. The activators found in fluxes are often organic compounds that release byproducts of incomplete combustion when heated. Byproducts containing noxious fumes, particulate matter, aerosols and gasses may be responsible for workers' symptoms. Therefore, the extraction of fumes is necessary to minimize exposure to contaminants. Flux types include resin-based, no-clean and water-soluble.
Resin-based flux is the oldest, most popular and the most effective. It primarily consists of colophony, a complex resin found in pine trees and linked to allergic reactions. The active agents are abietic and plicatic acids, which react with the metallic oxides on the joint to facilitate wetting. When these organic acids are exposed to high temperatures and combine with oxygen they yield products of partial combustion. These products may irritate the skin and eyes or worsen existing respiratory conditions. Abietic acid at room temperature may also cause skin irritations.