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How dangerous are the fumes from a reflow oven?

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How dangerous are the fumes from a reflow oven? | 10 August, 2019

Hello, I recently had to leave an SMT job because of the fumes generated from a reflow oven. Smoke poured out of the oven and left a tar-like yellow residue on everything near the input and output side. Its been two weeks since I left that job and I still do not feel back to normal. I was hoping someone could help me identify what I was breathing in. The ovens were set to a max temperature of 260°C. The solder paste we used was lead free by Shenmao. The boards were used for LED lighting and sometimes contained upwards of 300 LEDs. Polymer power connectors were also used frequently. The smell generated was very powerful and did not smell like the solder I’ve used in home projects. I understand that this isn’t exactly the purpose of these forums but I’ve looked around online and couldn’t find the information I was looking for. I’ve looked at the MSDS for the solder paste and it seems to mostly be an irritant. I’m unsure about fumes generated from the PCB, LEDs, and polymer power connectors when heated. Thank you in advance.

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How dangerous are the fumes from a reflow oven? | 12 August, 2019

Flux fume is not for breathing, that is why every oven must have exhaust system. If you have some problem with health you need doctors help, don't waste time for answer which don't help you.

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How dangerous are the fumes from a reflow oven? | 12 August, 2019

First, companies should nor be venting solder process fumes into the workplace.

Second, you should see medical attention, as Alexy suggested. It doesn't matter what caused you to get sick. Get fixed.

Third, if your ex-employer is venting soldering fumes into the workplace and didn't fix it when you got sick, you are doing a disservice to the remaining employees at that company by not ratting the company out to OSHA

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How dangerous are the fumes from a reflow oven? | 12 August, 2019

While I agree that you need to see an MD ASAP, it might help your provider to actually know what you were breathing, and I would worry way less about the materials in the components than I would about the flux from the solder paste.

Edited to add, are we correct in assuming that there was no ventilation system pulling the exhaust vapor out of the oven and into the outside environment? Because as Dave has already said, OSHA (or their state-run equivalency) would shut them down in a heartbeat. Not safe, not legal, and reckless as hell.

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How dangerous are the fumes from a reflow oven? | 12 August, 2019

"mostly an irritant" can be serious for some people. You can get other toxins from PCBs if you char them but you would have mentioned if they came out burnt.

Was there any exhaust on the oven at all? I have seen it where we used a particularly stinky paste one day and people complained. I checked the air flow at the oven with tissue and there was good air flow. I checked the fan on the roof anyway. I replaced the broken belt. I suspect that the belt had been broken for a little while and no one noticed right away.

My point is that even without an active exhaust the chimney effect will take most of the fumes away.(not enough but most) It sounds like that company did not have any exhaust ventilation at all. You not only need it vented outside you also need an active exhaust unit pulling the air.

You need to see a doctor and a government regulatory agency.

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