Thursday 12 January 2006 — This is over 17 years old. Be careful.
I got a Toshiba port replicator today, and packed in the box was a small slip of yellow paper with tiny print that read:
WARNING: Handling the cord on this product will expose you to lead, a chemical known to the State of California to cause birth defects or other reproducive harm. Wash hands after handling.
One way or another, this is stupid. Either there actually is a risk of harm, and why does the manufacturer make the power cords that way, or there is not, and why put alarming notices in our faces?
WARNING: Handling the cord on this product will expose you to arsenic, asbestos, mercury, depleted uranium as well as some sticky stuff that we're not really sure about. Washing your hands won't help, but if it makes you feel better, go right ahead. And don't even think about saying that we didn't warn you.
I don't think it's about the solder. A quick Google on "lead power cable warning" turns this up:
The intro sez it's about chemicals "found in the surface contact layer of covered wire and cable". For lead, the threshold is 0.03%, or 300 parts per million.
The paper is quite readable -- tho it only talks about what companies have to do to warn users, and nothing about the actual risks.
PVC has the special problem of forming HCl (Hydrochloric Acid) when it degrades, which causes a chain reaction which proceeds rapidly to complete loss of strength (and causes damage to manufacturing equipment). The stabilizers for PVC have thus mostly been metal salts, which could react with the HCl. These have included Lead, Cadmium, Barium, Calcium, Zinc, and organic Tin compounds.
Bill Bryson in A Short History of Nearly Everything has a great chapter entitled 'Getting the Lead Out' which goes into fascinating detail on the misadventures of commercial lead uses. Highly recommended reading.
Same warning on that lamp (actually, with the addition of a CANCER warning).
I called IKEA - they guaranteed their lamp chords don't contain any lead. Maybe because IKEA sells nothing with PVC??
I also called Home Depot - the guy said he would return any item that says 'wash your hands after use'. He found this very suspicious.
Thanks for all your postings - they made me feel less crazy. Although I'm even more confused now.
We don't know how many people came down with cancer because of lead in various household products. It's hard to say what causes cancer, but is quite evident that cancer is on the rise. There's no reason to believe that this rise in cancer rates is not being caused by our exposure to dangerous chemicals and materials on a daily basis.
My coworker is convinced that he came down with testicular cancer because he wore baggy jeans and would always keep his cell phone in his pocket. Just because this is just an opinion that is not proven, does that automatically mean that it is not true? Someone's Grandpa out there might have loved chewing on power cords as a kid and then eventually got cancer. They sure can't prove it was lead in power cords, but I would say that it doesn't rule out the possibility.
The following site was very informative, and it at least addresses the issue of risk, near the bottom under the heading "Labelling requirements/Carcinogenicity and exposure." It appears inhalation and ingestion are the modes of exposure you should be concerned with, including trace amounts left after handling, then transferred to the mouth.
Are we expected to trust that soap and water will remove it?
There are also details on the law that led to these labels, and other information about how lead is used in cords and what you can do to "limit" risks.
The definition and aim of the RoHS directive is quite simple. The RoHS directive aims to restrict certain dangerous substances commonly used in electronic and electronic equipment. Any RoHS compliant component is tested for the presence of Lead (Pb), Cadmium (Cd), Mercury (Hg), Hexavalent chromium (Hex-Cr), Polybrominated biphenyls (PBB), and Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE). For Cadmium and Hexavalent chromium, there must be less than 0.01% of the substance by weight at raw homogeneous materials level. For Lead, PBB, and PBDE, there must be no more than 0.1% of the material, when calculated by weight at raw homogeneous materials. Any RoHS compliant component must have 100 ppm or less of mercury and the mercury must not have been intentionally added to the component. In the EU, some military and medical equipment are exempt from RoHS compliance.
Have your doctor give you a heavy metal test.
Go cordless; eliminate other sources of exposure
put filters on water faucets/shower
don't breath bus fumes etc.
try alternative medicine means to get the lead out of your system, such as homeopathy (best), nutraceuticals
move out of Flint
If cancer actually IS on the increase, it will be because:
A: people are living longer, on average, so it will be more likely to happen
B: more people are having their cancer removed or forced into remission, but it will probably recur for them, so that's double the number of cases.
It caould be increased by tiny amounts of lead in cables, but, as you say, you can't prove it. Sitting in traffic jams with diesel vehicles will be afar worse effect, from the particulates.
I doubt that Dell would have lead-free cable, either.
Wash your hands regularly. Use anti-bacterial soap and kill two birds with one stone.
As of 2021, most electrical cords are still made with PVC, which contains lead. There is no safe or acceptable level of lead to have in your body, other than zero.
The California warnings are often ridiculous, but in this case, they are spot-on. Cords should be handled with care, and you should wash your hands afterward.
The people who feel better pretending there’s really nothing to worry about are simply in denial. We’re not saying that touching a PVC cord will make you fall down dead inside 5 minutes; but handling them frequently for years on end can and will have a negative impact on your health. Period. There is no exemption from lead poisoning. Get over yourself.
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