Halogens (Teflon) in Cat5 Cable.

In Europe the use of halogens in isolation for cables has been reduced after the fire at Düsseldorf airport in 1996. 17 people died, many of them because it is beleived that they could not find their way out because of thick and toxic smoke.

In 2001, the European Assosiation of Producers of Flame Retardant Olefinic Cable Compounds (FROCC) was founded, with the aim to promote zero-halogen compounds in cable applications. Following is a short excerpt from the paper Safe Cable Technology:

"Different perceptions of fire hazard exist within the USA and Europe. In the USA it has been noted that fire fatalities are due to carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning and that under flashover conditions CO is directly linked to heat release(4). Therefore if the heat release is controlled by whatever means the fatalities will correspondingly be reduced. In Europe the model is different. Fire fatalities are believed due to people failing to escape from the fire hazard. Smoke, irritancy and toxicity are factors inhibiting escape and it is to these factors that the greatest attention is given(5). The exclusion of halogenated materials is a strategy to improve escape potential as the combustion fumes arising from halogenated materials are known to cause significant smoke, irritancy and toxicity."

Teflon is also used as a non-stick coating on frying pans. If one is forgotten on the stove and is overheated, the fumes released can be lethal in particular to birds. So, if you have birds in your house, keep them away from the kitchen if you use Teflon coated pans.

For these reasons, Teflon coated Cat5 cable can be difficult to obtain in Europe. Use the polyolefin coated ones, they have excellent properties provided you are meticulous in the construction of the speaker cable, in particular in ensuring that all pairs have the same twist rate. Of course, if you can obtain Teflon coated Cat5 cable, it won't hurt sonically, although I don't know how much better they will sound, since I haven't made any using Teflon.



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