Plenum is a special material used to jacket a cable, this jacket is fire retardant and will reduce the amount of hazardous fumes in the air if the cable is subject to a fire.
Plenum cable is electrical cable that is laid in the plenum spaces of buildings. In the United States, plastics used in the construction of plenum cable are regulated under the National Fire Protection Association standard NFPA 90A: Standard for the Installation of Air Conditioning and Ventilating Systems. All materials intended for use on wire and cables to be placed in plenum spaces are designed to meet rigorous fire safety test standards in accordance with NFPA 262 and outlined in NFPA 90A.
Plenum cable is jacketed with a fire-retardant plastic jacket of either a low-smoke polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or a fluorinated ethylene polymer (FEP). Polyolefin formulations, specifically based on polyethylene compounding had been developed by at least two companies in the early to mid-1990s; however, these were never commercialized, and development efforts continue in these yet-untapped product potentials. Development efforts on a non-halogen plenum compound were announced in 2007 citing new flame-retardant synergist packages that may provide an answer for a yet-underdeveloped plenum cable market outside the United States.
In 2006, significant concern developed over the potential toxicity of FEP and related fluorochemicals including the process aid perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) or C8 such that California has proposed some of these materials as potential human carcinogens. The NFPA Technical Committee on Air Conditioning, in response to public comment, has referred the issue of toxicity of cabling materials to the NFPA Committee on Toxicity for review before 2008.
In 2007, a development program specifically targeting the production of a non-halogen plenum cable