Chipmakers Phasing Out Lead

Computer chip manufacturers are going greener. Intel and National Semiconductor announced separately yesterday that they will begin eliminating lead from most of their products. Intel will begin shipping lead-free embedded processors in the second quarter of 2004 and lead-free microprocessors in the third quarter; their lead-free memory chips are already on the market. National Semiconductor will phase lead out of its products by the end of the year, and also try to reduce the use of bromine- and antimony-based flame retardants. Concerns over the environmental impact of discarded computers — particularly the lead in circuit boards and cathode-ray monitors — has grown in recent years. A European law mandates a phaseout of lead by July 2006. While no such laws are on the books in the U.S., public concerns have prompted action from a number of electronics manufacturers.