Electronics makers are lamenting the European Union’s phaseout of lead from electronics, claiming that the heavy metal is the best-known defense against “whiskers,” splinters that sprout off of tin solder. Tin whiskers can cause short circuits, which some estimate have caused as much as $10 billion in damage since they were first noticed in the 1940s. Lead exposure has been linked to learning and behavioral problems, anemia, kidney disease, high blood pressure, and reproductive damage. Tough call.

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