Halogen table

Halogens - A Mixed Message?

Posted on Wednesday, January 28, 2015 by Dave Watson

There are certain parties in the environmental legislation movement who seem determined to outlaw or restrict the use of halogens in wire and cable insulating and jacketing materials.  A certain irony of this dawned on me the other day…

Consider the halogens Chlorine and Fluorine.  The “C” in PVC is for chlorine and the “F” in FEP, ETFE, PFA etc. is for fluorine.  The irony I see is that in most swimming pools, chlorine is added to help or improve water quality.  Fluorides (compounds that include fluorine) is added to municipal drinking water to help prevent tooth decay.  So this begs the question are these 2 halogens really good guys or bad guys?

In all fairness, it is really application dependent.  In plastic compounds, the problems halogens present is the generation of acid gases as they burn.  In confined spaces (subway cars & statins, high rise office buildings, etc.) the concentration of acid gasses can scar lung tissue and lead to asphyxiation.   But what about other applications?  Is there a reason not to use halogens in say, outdoor cables?  How about the wiring of open air sports stadiums?  Large factories?  You see my point.  Banning or restricting all halogens regardless of applications is like throwing the baby out with the bath water.



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