Safety in Handling Materials

Ventilation is recommended when handling fluoropolymer resins at high temperatures.

For more than 45 years, experience has shown that no reported cases of serious injury, prolonged illness, or death have resulted from the handling of fluoropolymer resins. Tests further indicate that the resins may be taken in food without ill effect and that the resins are nonirritating and nonsensitizing to the skin. There have been no known instances of dermatitis, allergy or other ill effects in man caused by handling unheated fabricated forms of resins.

In the case of human exposure to heated fluoropolymer resins, no lethal effect has been observed. Instead, such exposure has merely caused a temporary flu-like condition called polymer fume fever. The symptoms do not ordinarily occur until about two or more hours after exposure and pass off within 36 to 48 hours, even in the absence of treatment. Observations indicate that these attacks have no lasting effect and that the effects are not cumulative.

When such an attack occurs, it usually follows exposure to vapors evolved from the polymer at high temperatures used in resin processing operations.

Ventilation is typically provided to eliminate this potential problem and the resultant operator discomfort.

To verify this, an investigation was made by an independent laboratory into the potential for generation of fluoride decomposition products during the fusing operation. Air samples were collected for one hour directly above the point of fusing to determine if any particulate or gaseous decomposition products were being generated. 

The testing was done in stagnant air to simulate worst case conditions. No decomposition products, measured as hydrolyzable fluoride, were detected during this time. The lower detection limit of this test was 0.3 parts per million. These test results show that there is little potential for generation of hazardous decomposition products during the normal fusing process.

To further safeguard against the potential discomforts of polymer fume fever, do not smoke tobacco while flaring PFA tubing. This will reduce the possibility of inhaling any decomposition products, although small in quantity, that may be overheated by drawing them through a lit cigarette.