The objective of this project is to demonstrate the feasibility of a nondestructive, compact, reliable, easy-to-operate X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analyzer for measurement of toxic elements in electronics and other related consumer products at their point of manufacture. The intervention at the manufacturing or distribution center will substantially eliminate the exposure to the consumer at home, school, work, or from the product that ends up in a landfill. This electronics manufacturing analyzer will be fit for purpose on the factory floor, enabled by new, powerful, proprietary, monochromatic doubly curved crystal (DCC) X-ray optics, source configurations, and associated software that greatly increases the efficiency and sensitivity for this elemental analysis. These toxins occur naturally in the environment, but also are included in manufacturing processes for purposes such as UV resistance, durability, and strength. Abnormal levels of these toxic elements in the body are known to be associated with many health disorders such as cancer, cognitive impairment, as well as respiratory, cardiological, and other neurological symptoms. In spite of their recognized importance, only recently have these toxic metals been regulated at levels exceeding current practical measurement techniques (i.e. Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive of 2002, and Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008). Current field-portable instrumentation does not meet the quantitative needs of manufacturers or regulatory agencies. This has caused a significant shift to laboratory-based measurements which are accurate, but they are also complex, time-consuming, and expensive. That approach requires sample transportation, handling, delays, and highly trained operators. The laboratories certified for such measurements are also limited in number and regional in distribution. As a result, neither solution is fit for purpose. The toxic element analyzer proposed in this project is based on advancing the X-ray optics and software capability for use in electronics and toys, while simultaneously making it simple-to-use for any operator with minimal training. The new system will allow unprecedented X-ray fluorescence of sensitivity for simultaneously measuring most regulated elemental toxins, including traditionally difficult to measure elements such as cadmium, antimony, and barium. The proposed new analyzer changes the public-health situation dramatically by offering an inexpensive, reliable elemental toxin analyzer that is fit for purpose on the factory floor. By intervening at the source, this instrument will reduce or eliminate the risk of unknowing direct exposure from our consumer products as well as indirect exposure in the environment from disposal of these items in a landfill. This will reduce health-care costs, and simultaneously improve regulatory compliance capabilities.
The proposed electronics and manufacturing analyzer has the potential to substantially mitigate or even eliminate many toxic element exposures by intervening at the source with a quantitative, simple-to-use, substantially matrix independent, and nondestructive instrument to identify problems at the factory or distribution center before the toxins reach the home, school, or work place. The positive impacts to public health include decreased toxic element exposure, which leads to reduced public-health effects, reduced remediation costs, and reduced health-care costs. The applicability for such an instrument is vast and includes testing for the regulated toxic elements (i.e. Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive of 2002, or Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008) in electronics, other related consumer products, and products intended for children.