IEC prepares to include fluorine in halogen guidelines
The IEC’s Technical Committee 111 is preparing to ban polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) materials from electronics. This joins the other two halogens (bromine and chlorine) that are currently very limited.
Who are the Technical Committee 111 of the International Electrotechnical Commission?
The purpose of TC 111 from the IEC is to standardise all environmental standards in terms of electrical and electronic products and systems. Their standards apply to member countries and essentially govern health and safety specifications for the electronic industry.
Previously they excluded fluorine from their halogen guidelines, applying restrictions only to bromine and chlorine. If their new proposed document is approved by its member countries and published by IEC – it would make PTFE-based materials unusable in electronics.
Why ban PTFE/Fluorine?
The reason for strongly limiting the halogens was that previous brominated and chlorinated flame retardants produced dioxins and other toxic elements when burned. This was surprisingly especially true when burned at lower temperatures. These have a negative effect for both humans and the environment.
What are the negative consequences if this is passed?
Fluorine is often used in base materials made of PTFE resins. For performance reasons, it is used as a flame retardant. One common use that a lot of us are familiar with is Teflon non stick pans – which a lot of people eat out of (after cooking at high temperatures). Without fluorine, PTFE materials are essentially banned from electronics. A common opinion is that fluorine is being lumped in with more dangerous elements just because of where it’s located in the periodic table. Base materials made from PTFE provide unique functionality to many different industries with a low hazard.
Depending on your opinion, you may want to contact the IEC National Committee of your country, as well as IEC TC111 representatives. If this does go through, it will have a huge impact on the electronics industry, and may also set a standard for others.