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Sound Advice

Protect Yourself From Solder Fumes by Barry Lubotta

Most everyone who works in the recording industry has had the occasion at one time or another to come into contact with solder being melted by a soldering iron.

Whether it was a bad cable, wiring up a patching bay, or making an equipment repair the solution required a hot iron and solder.

The downside of this invaluable studio tool is that the very process by necessity spews out poisonous chemicals such as salicylic acid and pinene. The person doing the work by definition is in close proximity to the byproducts of the soldering process. Anyone breathing in fumes containing these noxious components can experience headaches, nausea, eye diseases and worse.

There have always been solder smoke removers available for purchase. Trouble is they cost about $700 Canadian and up. My experience has been that when that type of money is lying around in a studio environment, it almost always goes for a new piece of gear rather than anything related to extending one’s life expectancy.

Recently I came across a less expensive device that claims to remove 80% of the harmful pollutants from solder. It is a new product that claims to absorb noxious lead fumes using an activated carbon filter and a high efficiency fan. I ordered this portable device and it works beautifully. While not as good as an expensive professional absorber, it is nonetheless very effective at drawing the solder smoke away from the user and absorbing most of the bad stuff into its filter. This product is available through Techni-Tool at (610) 941-2400. Extra filters can also be ordered.

Barry Lubotta is the owner of Pizzazudio in Toronto, ON

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