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Safety — Toxic Teflon Gases?

Dear Mike Holt,

Before 9/11, most of us never thought of a passenger airplane as a weapon. With recent revelations from the MSDS for Teflon and the information from the United States Army Medical Research Institute about TOXIC TEFLON gases as a pulmonary agent (chemical warfare weapon), we have had to reappraise our thinking about the safety of the communications cabling workplace.

There is a new focus on abandoned cable removal in order to reduce the fuel load in the workplace. In the U.S.A., there is approximately 8 1/2 million miles of abandoned cable in the workplace. Most of that cable contains Teflon® FEP or Neoflon® FEP (approximately 11 lbs. per thousand feet of plenum cable). This material is potentially highly toxic and extremely corrosive. 500 million lbs. of FEP = a potential super weapon or threat to the U.S. workplace. What staggers the imagination is the fact that none of the testing protocols for communications cable (which is placed in the air systems) measure toxicity or corrosivity (both are extremely significant threats to life and property). The current tests measure fire and smoke but disregard toxic gases.

For the past 25 years, the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) has not addressed the toxicity issue in the development of the updated National Electrical Code. We have the technology to monitor for toxic gases and activate safety systems in the indoor air systems to protect the building occupants. This important step towards safety may not happen until the NEC recognizes the toxic properties of the materials that are allowed in the building air systems. Awareness is a critical first step to safety in the (electrical) workplace.

DuPont Teflon® FEP MSDS. (Please download and print this PDF file [1.25MB] and read carefully)
This is a matter of the Public Right To Know & Public Safety

Important Note:
This information comes from the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense, Medical Management of Chemical Casualties Handbook. http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/usa/doctrine/army/mmcch/PulmAgnt.htm

TOXIC TEFLON - Pulmonary Agents

Check the MSDS for Teflon® FEP: Perfluoroisobutylene (PFIB) is a toxic pyrolysis product of tetrafluoroethylene polymers encountered in military materiel (e.g., Teflon7, found in the interior of many military vehicles). The oxides of nitrogen (NOxs) are components of blast weapons or may be toxic decomposition products. Smokes, e.g., HC, contain toxic compounds that cause the same effects as phosgene does. The remainder of this chapter will deal solely with phosgene because it is the prototype of this class of agents; however, the principles of medical management of phosgene exposure also apply to casualties from compounds such as PFIB or NOxs.

Asbestos, lead, tobacco, and a host of other harmful materials are being recognized and dealt with. Safety is too important to ignore.

But that's just my opinion,

Frank Bisbee
"Heard On The Street" column
www.wireville.com
(904) 645-9077
frank@wireville.com

Low-Voltage and Limited-Power Systems Book — 2002
Subjects include the NEC rules that apply to low-voltage and limited-energy systems that most people are not aware of, definitions, the general NEC installation requirements, and specific NEC requirements for control, sound, video, CATV, CCTV, antennas, telephone, fiber optics, etc. Topics include grounding, cable installation, spacing, support, etc.

Product Code: 02LV

Table of Contents
Sample Pages

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