TOXICITY TESTING ON CABLES
Surprisingly, It's Not Done
The ABR Consulting Group, Inc.
has been following recent National Electric Code (NEC) requirements to remove
abandoned electrical and telecom cable from existing buildings. As part of
this subject, we review other material on the on-going performance and safety
testing of the both the materials that go into the construction of the finished
cables and the finished cables themselves.
Of particular interest to us is the toxicity of materials in
a cabling system should a fire event unfold. In a recent newsletter
article by Frank Bisbee, President of Communication Planning Corporation (or a member of
his staff) we offer the following paragraph on this topic.
infrastructure (cabling & connectors) is focused on two major areas - performance
and safety. Typically,
performance is placed in the arena of standards and safety is related to codes.
Most of the information provided by the manufacturers deals with
performance and interoperability. The
information about safety is usually described in relationship to meeting certain
is too important to ignore. There
are two major areas of concern that remain undressed in the NEC 2002 (National
Electric Code). As the building
industry is besieged with litigation revolving around the mold toxicity issue,
we asked the "BIG" question.
Does the testing process for fire safety measure the TOXICITY of the cables when
overheated or burned? The answer is shockingly "NO".
Remarkably, fire safety performance over time (SUSTAINABILITY) is also not
in the cabling marketplace, limited combustible cable is touted as the premier
cable construction for fire safety. Limited
combustible cable (by all current manufacturers) is only insulated and jacketed
with FEP (fluorinated ethylene propylene).
The fire testing (per NFPA 90A-National Fire Protection Association) includes
maximum potential heat value of 3500 btu/lb, and maximum smoke developed index
of 50 for the NFPA 255 surface burning characteristics test.
The cable is UL (Underwriters Laboratories) approved and marked CMP-Limited
Combustible. The testing (NFPA 90A)
for smoke generation and flame spread is more stringent that the tests (UL910/NFPA
262) for CMP. At this time, FEP
appears to be the only material commercially available that will pass the LC
test. Certainly, it would seem that
more stringent fire testing is good. But,
is it really?
the last cycle of the National Electric Code (NEC 2002) two important
developments for the cabling industry took place.
First, the need to reduce the fuel load in the return air plenums was
identified and the code added a provision for the removal of
The NFPA is currently wrestling with new issues
for cabling safety that will be considered for the next cycle of the NEC (NEC
2005). In mid August, the NFPA 90A
committee is scheduled to meet to deal with several areas of concern.
Topics included in their published agenda, are the discussions about the
use and applications of limited combustible cable.
Several parties have discussed the use of LC cables in Air Ducts in
Frank's email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
His website can visited at
Frank has a great newsletter.
Contact us at www.abrconsulting.com
Phone: 925.872.5523 Fax: 916.478.2814