Plastics Trade Organization Defends Fluorine


EBN’s March feature article, “Wire and Cable” (

Vol. 13, No. 3), the sidebar “Is Fluorine Worse than Chlorine?” may have needlessly alarmed readers in its attempt to summarize the large amount of available information on perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in a short amount of text. The key point is that consumer and industrial products containing fluoropolymers made using PFOA provide many unique benefits and are safe when used as intended. The facts regarding PFOA are:

1. PFOA is essential to the manufacture of materials that are used to make products that span the entire U.S. economy. Its primary use is to help make high-performance, fire-resistant materials known as fluoropolymers. Because of their unique qualities—including great strength and versatility, durability, and heat resistance—fluoropolymers are used to make products that, among other things, reduce fire risk in high-rise buildings.

2. The risk of fire in office buildings is reduced due to fluoropolymers used to insulate wire and cable placed in the air space between a suspended ceiling and the structural floor above, which is generally used for low-voltage data-transmission materials, such as phone cables, computer wire and cables, coaxial cable, and hookup wire. Flame-resistant fluoropolymers do not interfere with signal transmission and are good insulators of low-voltage electricity.

3. The PFOA used to help make fluoropolymers is largely removed during the final steps of polymer production. The fluoropolymer industry is currently developing test methods to determine the levels of PFOA, if any, in plenum cable and other finished products in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

4. Although some laboratory studies have indicated that PFOA causes adverse health effects in rodents exposed to very high levels, there is no evidence of adverse human health effects caused by PFOA exposure, either for the public or for industry employees at facilities where PFOA was manufactured or used whose health has been studied for many years. And the EPA has stated as recently as April 2003 that “EPA does not believe there is any reason for consumers to stop using any consumer or industrial-related products.”

Donald K. Duncan, President

The Society of the Plastics

Industry, Inc.

Washington, D.C.


Published May 1, 2004

(2004, May 1). Plastics Trade Organization Defends Fluorine. Retrieved from https://www.buildinggreen.com/op-ed/plastics-trade-organization-defends-fluorine

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