Soldering fumes (also known as soldering smoke) are hazardous fumes that are generated from the process of melting down the flux past its boiling point. When the flux is melted down, its state goes from solid - to liquid - to gas (the “Solder Fume”).
Flux is a chemical cleaning agent that is used in conjunction with solder in order to remove oxidation from the base and filler metals involved in soldering. This process improves the overall flow and effectiveness in the merging of the metals.
Colophony, the base product of flux, is translucent, amber-colored rosin that is abstracted when turpentine is distilled from the resin of pine trees. It is composed of roughly 90% resin acid and 10% neutral material. When the flux is heated, colophony generates fumes including, but not limited to, aliphatic aldehydes, hydrochloric acid and other gases containing benzene, toluene, styrene, phenol, chlorophenol, and isopropyl alcohol.
Due to the high risk of worker/operator exposure during soldering, OSHA suggests Ventilation as a key to controlling lead exposures:
"Ventilation, either local or dilution (general), is probably the most important engineering control available to the safety and health professional to maintain airborne concentrations of lead at acceptable levels. Local exhaust ventilation, which includes both portable ventilation systems and shrouded tools supplied with ventilation, is generally the preferred method. If a local exhaust system is properly designed, it will capture and control lead particles at or near the source of generation and transport these particles to a collection system before they can be dispersed into the work environment."
Select Your Solder Fume Extractor:
Yes. These hazardous fumes often contain many chemicals that can cause immediate and long-term respiratory and skin irritation, including, but not limited to, eye, throat and lung irritation, nose bleeds and headaches.
Weller, a manufacturer of soldering products (among other items), explains that "at least 20% of the employees working in the soldering area show clinical symptoms of asthma caused by the work environment" in studies that have been done on workers mostly in the United States and England in the electronics industry.
WARNING: THIS PRODUCT CONTAINS LEAD AND MAY CONTAIN OTHER TOXIC METALS OR CHEMICALS. Ingestion or inhalation of fumes or particles released through processing could cause lead poisoning or cancer. Absorption of lead is known to cause birth defects and other reproductive harm and may result for example in damage to the blood and neurological systems. Use only with adequate ventilation. Use NIOSH approved respiratory protection when necessary. Wash thoroughly before eating, drinking or smoking. Not for use in portable water service systems...
The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 states that "employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees."  It is the employee’s right to inform the employer of workplace health hazards like poor ventilation during soldering. (The Whistleblower Protection Program protects employees who raise health and safety issues to their employers).
Sentry Air Systems, Inc. provides this information as customer service, but cannot be responsible for its accuracy or completeness. It is recommended that competent legal authorities, as well as safety and hygiene professionals,s safety and hygiene professionals, be consulted.