An article posted in Cableorganizer.com's Learning Center explains what zinc whiskers are, why they are potentially harmful and also maddening to data center administrators, and how a facility's cable tray may be the culprit.
The article reads in part, "Zinc whiskers 'grow' on steel surfaces that have been electroplated (galvanized) with zinc to prevent rust." It further describes a little bit of the science behind zinc-whisker creation and why they are just as likely to form in a cool, dry controlled environment as they are in a warm, damp one.
The article is a cautionary note meant to alert cabling and network professionals in all spheres that the material used to support cables - i.e., cable tray - can either potentially contribute to, or not contribute to, the appearance of zinc whiskers in a data center or computer room. Essentially, when using metal cable tray, the risk comes down to the manner in which the tray is protected from the elements (e.g. galvanized, powder-coat, etc.).