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How Do the California Restrictions on the use of Certain Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Law and Regulations Compare to the European Union’s RoHS Directive?

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California modeled its RoHS law and regulations after the European Union’s (EU) RoHS Directive 2002/95/EC. The California RoHS law specifically prevents DTSC from prohibiting the sale of products not prohibited from sale in the EU under the EU RoHS Directive.  Therefore, specific applications of lead, mercury, cadmium and hexavalent chromium that are exempt from the EU RoHS Directive are also exempt from California RoHS regulations.

EXAMPLE: The EU RoHS Directive exempts lead in cathode ray tubes (CRTs). If a particular CRT television contains lead in the glass of the CRT above the 0.1% maximum concentration value (MCV) for lead, and if the lead in the CRT glass is the only substance that exceeds the MCV, both the EU and California would allow the sale of that television.

Although California’s RoHS is modeled after the EU Directive, it is a narrower in scope.  Specifically:

  • The EU RoHS Directive applies to “electrical and electronic equipment” which is essentially any device that depends on, or generates, an electric current for its function. California’s restrictions are limited  to “covered electronic devices“, which are specific video display devices that have been listed in DTSC’s regulations.
  • The EU RoHS Directive and California’s RoHS regulations both restrict the use of lead, mercury, cadmium, and hexavalent chromium in certain electronic devices. However, the EU RoHS Directive also restricts the use of two brominated flame retardants, polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), in electronic devices. California’s RoHS regulations do not restrict the use of any brominated flame retardants in “covered electronic devices.”
  • In the EU, electronic devices may be subject to RoHS if they were put on the market on or after the date the EU RoHS Directive took effect, regardless of when the devices manufactured. California’s RoHS regulations, on the other hand, apply only to those “covered electronic devices” manufactured on and after the date that the devices first became subject to the California RoHS regulations.
  • California cannot prohibit the sale of electronic devices that can be sold in the EU under the EU RoHS Directive (i.e., a device that complies with, or is excluded or exempt from, the requirements of the EU RoHS Directive), regardless of whether or not that device contains any restricted substances above the MCVs.
  • California cannot ban from sale electronic devices restricted from sale in the EU that are NOT “covered electronic devices” as defined under California law, even if they contain restricted substances in concentrations above one or more of the MCVs.