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DuPont's Teflon Dilemma

November 12, 2003
Please read this interesting article about DuPont's Teflon Dilemma (11-1-2003) Go To Article

To stay on top of important environmental issues, visit the website of the Environmental Working Group www.ewg.org on a regular basis.

Visions for the future and drivers for the industry

DuPont www.dupont.com officials acknowledge that C-8 is a Carcinogen. C-8 is used in the manufacture of Teflon® FEP, a major component in billions of feet of plenum rated communications cable.

DuPont is making major changes and revving up the Teflon business. DuPont, no longer the number one chemical maker in the United States, is moving away from its traditional businesses, like textiles. Previous strategies, like the biotech/seed venture, took a $4.2 billion write down. Benlate related legal costs and settlements soared into the billions. Additionally, the acquisition strategy of Pharma and plans to build it into a drug powerhouse fell flat on its face. And now, corporate losses are being blamed on energy costs. It seems like everything that has gone wrong was somebody else's fault and the management team is irreproachable.

Teflon® FEP, once thought to be the safest material for communications cabling, is now being scrutinized for sublethal toxic fumes that can incapacitate and overall product toxicity/corrosivity. These issues, coupled with potential legal consequences for the C-8 situation, could have a major negative impact on the strategy to expand the Teflon® business.

In the world of communications cabling, the NFPA 90A Committee www.nfpa.org.com has voted to endorse a new testing criterion for all cables used in air plenums. At this time it appears that the only insulating and jacketing material that can deliver the performance AND meet the new fire testing criteria is FEP. Several industry experts have attacked this proposal as commercially driven and not a step towards improved safety. The final decision will rest with the vote by the general membership of NFPA in May of 2004. If this proposal is approved, it will represent a major marketing coup for DuPont Teflon ® FEP. Due to limited supply and increased demand, bloated prices would be a safe prediction.

In any event, there are many factors at work to determine the future for DuPont and the communications cabling industry.

But that's just my opinion...

Frank Bisbee
(904) 645-9077 frank@wireville.com

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