Monday, June 15, 2009

Do The Electrical Power Cords In Your Home Contain Lead?

Very early in the AM hours, much to my chagrin, I unpackaged a new hair care appliance that was tagged with a troubling warning label. Around the appliance's electrical cord was a tag that stated:

"WARNING: The power cord on this product contains lead, a chemical known to the State of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm. WASH HANDS AFTER HANDLING."

Knowing the dangers of lead- and reading the perilous warning- prompted me to google, "power cords containing lead."

I wanted to know if this warning was exclusive to one particular product , or if it was common for numerous products. What I found was a tad disturbing. It seems like my purchased product was not the anomaly.

One question and answer online site states: "One survey found lead in 23 out of 27 cords tested. After handling the cords for only 10 seconds, fingers also tested positive for lead."

The lead is supposed to be a functional element in the power cord that keeps it from becoming flammable. However, it doesn't seem to be necessary. Other, less hazardous materials can reportedly be used in lieu of lead.

Online sources claim that European countries have totally banned power cords from being manufactured with lead. A consumer on a site stated: "the European Union...has already 'ban[ned] the placing on the EU market of new electrical and electronic equipment containing more than agreed levels of lead, cadmium, mercury, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyl (PBB) and polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants.' Their cords are RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Materials) compliant." America currently has no such stipulations. Only a California law passed on 1986 [SIDEBAR: Scroll down and see today's "Elsie Law's Daily Dose Of The Law post] requires that manufacturers who create products that contain power cords made with lead alert customer's to the substance's presence.

Seeing the lead warning label attached to my electrical appliance was a first for me. I wonder exactly how long power cords of American products have been made with lead? Why was this the first time that I have ever seen a notification regarding the lead warning? Will America ever adopt Europe's rules for manufacturing power cords? How dangerous is it that our power cords contain lead?

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