Why is there a need for alternatives to Halogenated plastic materials? That was the next question answered in the Panduit White Paper, Five Things to Know When Specifying Halogen-Free Wiring Duct (see our previous post). “In the longer term to meet more application requirements, the challenge to halogen-free product developers will be to provide comparable or superior material properties to halogenated products at a comparable cost,” noted Panduit.
Some applications for these materials create a concern that plastics materials containing halogen can release corrosive and toxic gases if ignited in a fire, Panduit stated, noting that for Panduit’s products this can damage electronics “wherever the smoke travels, and the toxic element can be potentially hazardous to persons if they cannot easily evacuate from the area.”
Panduit points out examples such as a fire in a communications switching station a number of years ago that caused tens of millions of dollars in damage. Smoke toxicity is also a danger in areas where it is difficult for people to evacuate such a offshore oil and gas platforms, mass transit vehicles such as busses, trains, and airplanes.
There are several alternatives to help address the toxicity issues and corrosive smoke. Panduit suggests choosing halogenated products that do not easily ignite, or ignite at a very high temperature, or “choose non-halogenated products that may ignite but will not release toxic or corrosive gases.”
Countries such as the European Union have placed restrictions on certain products deemed to be hazardous, such as the EU RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) and WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) Directives.