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View Full Version : Lead in Wire? What me worry??


INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
02-13-2008, 09:37 PM
The following is a letter I read submitted by a colleague of mine; Barb Palmer, Landscape Designs LLC, Glenview Illinois. It has to do with the presence of lead in the wire we handle each and every day.

If you have some info to provide, or some background, or if you know of someone in the wire biz, please forward this on to them for review and comment.

Regards.

Has anyone ever tested the cable they use for lead content in the
insulation, ie. what would rub off on your hand when working with it????
This winter I had a vendor quote me a real low price for cable. I
asked for samples 1 foot lengths to inspect and count the number of
wire strands. The strands worked out just fine. The wire was
extremely flexible. The samples arrived just when I got some Lead
Check test kits for my Nephew to test my Grand-nephew's baby toys.
Decided to try a test swab on the cable sample and it turned red right
away. Repeated process on other samples and received same result.
Started testing all the other cable I had left in the house, and found
that all the rolls responded to some degree with a positive surface
lead content. The good news, I guess, is that the cable that had the
least response(lowest lead content) was from the big batch of 12 gauge
that I had used the most.
SO, the question (s) I pose here is (are),
Is there a lead content in all the cable that is manufactured?
Is anybody even checking that?
If the lead comes off on these test swabs (which have been around for
20 years that I know of)it is bound to come off on your hands when you
are working with it.
What danger does it pose to anybody working with it. either in the
manufacturing process, or in the installation process?
Does it continue to leach off the cable in the soil, once installed?
Sorry to ask so many questions that maybe no one can answer.

Lead Check swabs are a product of Hybrivet Systems, Inc. Framington, MA.
www.LeadCheck.com.
Their warrantee states that the swabs are..."a convenient method for
detection of leachable lead in steel structures, metal surfaces, dust,
soldered plumbing and other metal alloys, paint chips, skin, painted
wood and any solid surface."
Further..." Under the conditions described in the instructions,
(which I followed) Lead Check® Swabs will detect high levels of
leachable lead."

I first used these test swabs when my kids were little to eliminate
sources of lead in household stuff...like dishware you eat off of,
painted surfaces on old baby furniture, things that babies might put
in their mouths. Found out the glaze on the old dishes we had from my
childhood had worn thru enough that they were unacceptable to eat off
of anymore, and out they went. I then tested the new stuff in the
store before I bought it.

Well, I know this is alot to digest, but has anybody got any
familiarity with these questions? Seems like something that should be
looked into.

Barb Palmer
Landscape Designs LLC
Glenview, IL 60025

ChampionLS
02-14-2008, 05:23 AM
James,

Theres no lead used in the manufacture of wire, cable, or the insulation. The insulation is molded around the conductors in an extrusion process. The only time any human touches it would be at the point of palatalizing. If you received samples, they've been obviously cut off, placed on a counter or cart, then packaged. Thats how they could get contaminated. You never mentioned how you received them. Also those kiddie swabs are consumer grade test kits. You would have to send the wire in question to a lab for a chemical evaluation using a gas chromatographic mass spectrometer.

Lead is not poisonous by handling it, and you shouldn't be eating it! Think of all the fishing weights and sinkers that are in every bait shop. What about people making stained glass. Even plumbers use lead. Sounds like another chain email scare tactic.

Heres a link to the molding compound we use on all of our wire harnesses. It's UL listed Marlex 9004, and it's food grade.

http://www.ides.com/grades/ds/E76945.htm

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
02-14-2008, 08:19 AM
Anthony. My god man, can you not read?

I did not receive anything. I was the messenger of a letter my colleague wrote.

Clearly, from her testing of the wire, there was in fact lead present on that said wire.

Do not insult me or Ms. Palmer by suggesting this is "another chain email scare tactic" as it most certainly is not.

irrig8r
02-14-2008, 12:15 PM
It does have the feel of a chain mail piece.... but, I also know Barb and she clearly stated that she did the testing herself.

Lead has been used in various PVC products over the years, like vinyl siding and mini-blinds, and unfortunately, some children's toys. Lead pipes and wine vessels are thought by some historians to be a contributing cause of the decline of the Roman Empire.

Lead is a carcinogen and a mutagen when inhaled or ingested. It's why it's been removed from gasoline and paint. It causes irreversible damage in young children's developing brains.

Strands of Christmas lights sold here have lead warning labels on them telling us to wash hands thoroughly after handling.

A simple label of the same sort wouldn't be unreasonable if indeed lead is present in insulating jackets of the cable we use regularly, now would it?

ChampionLS
02-14-2008, 08:17 PM
I think you guys are missing the point. This world strives to profit on the belief that everything is hazardous. Everything you hear about is toxic and un-healthy, and on the opposite end, there's a mysterious new solution to solving it. (which is YET, another profit center.)

In our industry alone, you have a much better chance of coming in contact with lead by soldering wires and breathing in the fumes. How about handling fill dirt from every jobsite you've worked at while burying cable? What about every day drinking water that comes from iron/galvanized/copper plumbing? Just because somebody used a consumer grade test swab (which means nothing on the basis of professional testing authority) and it turned color does not indicate the presence of lead in the insulation material. That product may have come in contact with many sources of contaminants from it's original point of origin. Notice you never mentioned the vendor. Why keep it secret?

In the past, they have used lead in gasoline to provide a cooling effect on the valves. New technology has omitted the need for lead, in addition to it being hazardous. Lead was used in paint to enhance the coverage and spreadability. It's been superceded by newer additives. Nobody uses lead in the manufacture of cable insulation. If you think I'm wrong, post a MSDS here showing it.

As far as being a professional... James- do you know what RoHS compliance is? Do you think ISO9001 companies just whip up a concoction of crap and coat their conductors with it? RoHS Compliance is a set of strict regulations that allow a maximum concentration value to 0.1% by weight in homogeneous materials for lead, mercury, hexavalent chromium, PBB and PBDE and of up to 0.01% by weight in homogeneous materials such as cadmium will be permitted in the manufacture of new EEE (Electrical and Electronic Equipment) such as transformer casings.

irrig8r
02-14-2008, 08:58 PM
Well, it's somehow comforting to know that there are standards...

Are you saying definitively then that there is no lead content in any LV 12/2 AWG cable offered for sale in the US?

And what about those Christmas lights (http://www.cnn.com/2007/HEALTH/12/10/christmas.lights/index.html?imw=Y&iref=mpstoryemail) I mentioned? Are you saying someone reaps profits from such a story?

YardPro
02-14-2008, 09:15 PM
the Christmas lights have lead in the sockets of the lights, not the wire coating

Venturewest
02-14-2008, 09:45 PM
the Christmas lights have lead in the sockets of the lights, not the wire coating

http://www.cnn.com/2007/HEALTH/12/10/christmas.lights/index.html

eskerlite
02-14-2008, 10:22 PM
Is ther any lead in solder now? Steve P. can You answer this?
Sean C.

steveparrott
02-15-2008, 10:12 AM
We don't sell solder but recomend the use of lead-free tin solder.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
02-15-2008, 10:20 AM
Steve. I seem to recall seeing some sort of notice or warning inside a box fixtures regarding lead.... Something about California regulations?? Not sure.

Do you have any info on the presence of lead in the wire that you use at the factory? Would you be willing to make an inquiry to your wire producer on this matter?

Thanks.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
02-15-2008, 10:21 AM
Joey: How about the representative from Paige wire? Could you pass this along and see what he has to say?

Thanks.

irrig8r
02-15-2008, 12:53 PM
Can anyone tell me if these compounds/ products are commonly used in any cable we might encounter?

http://www.addendacorporation.com/addibasetetra.html

http://www.addendacorporation.com/addibase.html

http://www.addendacorporation.com/addilubedbls.html

http://www.addendacorporation.com/addistabtlf.html

http://www.addendacorporation.com/addilubenls.html

Seems like they might be an integral part of the manufacturing process, at least by reading the descriptions of what they are used for....

ChampionLS
02-15-2008, 10:00 PM
James:

We get all our wire private labeled from Paige. Their wire is RoHS compliant. Everything is spooled up via automation. No one even breathes on it.

Solder still contains lead, or at least most solders do. Lead free solder is used on potable water pipes. Most Edison based lamps have a dot of solder where the conductor is soldered to the base. Sometimes this even melts on high wattage lamps.

Everything in California has a warning label on it. That's to be expected.

Gregg: The lead content on the Christmas lights may have been on a separate process to color the cable, color the lamps, or some second op. process.

irrig8r
02-16-2008, 12:57 AM
I get the feeling you didn't look at the links I posted.

I don't know how many PPM the various lead compounds at those links might make up as they're used, but they're apparently used for various steps in manufacturing PVC insulating jackets...

BTW, I'm not saying I know they're used in the cable we use... I'm asking, and so far no one is answering directly...

:confused:

barefeetny
02-16-2008, 02:48 AM
I worked at a lead/battery recycling center for years ... full face respirator
we wrecked and shucked batterys then fed the wrecker into a hopper that fed furnaces. lead dust covered everything....really horrible work

only way for lead to get into your body is to breathe it or eat it

your not eating it or breathing it... even if you were handling it as long as you keep your fingers out of your mouth you are fine

a peice of pure lead about the size of a pencil tip will raise your blood count t 1 micrograms/dL of lead in the blood

highest blood count i ever had was 28
osha recomends under 20 for adults under 10 for kids
most people starting work at this facility were somewhere between 2-5

If your working with lead... wash your hands
don't eat it
and don't breathe it

you can handle it as much as you want provided your hands are not cut open an raw

hope this helps

Nate

irrig8r
02-18-2008, 01:09 PM
More from Barb Palmer:

Actually the Lead Check test kits are pretty foolproof. You swab the
item. If the swab turns pink in 30 seconds, you've got lead. If it
does not, you can confirm a negative result by touching the end of
the swab to a test confirmation card included, which has lead on it.
If the reagents in the swab are active, the card will turn pink right
away.

I have now retested all available spools of wire now in my
possession, and checked brands. The offending spools are marked
Isotec, Inc. The swab turns dark pink right away.
The one scant spool of Paige wire I have comes up clean. The wire
marked Honeywell comes up clean.
Steve, I do not know about Regency, because I do not have any of their
wire.
I will be seeing a new supplier next week that I think handles
Regency. If so, will test and let you know.

The samples dropped off in December by a vendor looking for my
business test positive for lead, but a very slow reaction. There is
no mfg. name visible on any of the samples, and the longest piece is
about 2 feet.

Actually, the question should be put to the manufacturers/suppliers.
They should be able to tell us if their manufacturing process uses
lead in the wire insulation.
One little test does not tell you much about a manufacturer.

Thanks for your patience. Hope we come away knowing more than we did
when I brought this up.

Barb

What I find interesting about this is that the Isotec (http://www.isotecwire.com/underground_lighting.htm) website has a claim about "RoHS compliance" and "Going Green"and if you click on that, it takes you to a list including:

Elimination of all Lead(Pb), Mercury(Hg), Cadmium (Cd), Hexavalent Chromium (Cr+6), Polybrominated Biphenyls PBB) or Polybrominated Diphenyl ethers (PBDE) based plastic products in manufacturing of all wire related products to comply with the European Union RoHs directive 2002/95/EC and California’s Proposition 65 demands.

http://www.isotecwire.com/index.html

ChampionLS
02-19-2008, 03:26 AM
This still doesn't tell me anything. The samples she has touched something with lead on it, Or quite possibly the manufacturing equipment used to process her samples ran other non jacketed wire that may have contained lead.

Why is she so concerned about outdoor wire anyway? She should be swabbing china or dishware, or products that contact food. I bet this woman doesn't even have a microwave oven in her home. Unless she's planning on stirring a cup of coffee with that sample wire, I wouldn't lose sleep over it.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
02-19-2008, 09:22 AM
Moderators, please remove.... I thought better of it. :)

irrig8r
02-19-2008, 11:38 AM
This still doesn't tell me anything. The samples she has touched something with lead on it, Or quite possibly the manufacturing equipment used to process her samples ran other non jacketed wire that may have contained lead.

Why is she so concerned about outdoor wire anyway? She should be swabbing china or dishware, or products that contact food. I bet this woman doesn't even have a microwave oven in her home. Unless she's planning on stirring a cup of coffee with that sample wire, I wouldn't lose sleep over it.

So, tell me... are you being intentionally dense? Because in other posts I've read of yours you don't come off as the moron you do in this thread.

It makes me wonder... since you seem to be trying so hard to avert attention from the topic... what have you got to hide?

Have you even looked at the links I posted about lead compounds from Addenda?

What do you think about Isotec's claim that they're "going green" when Barb tested their wire and it came up positive. Maybe she just had an older sample? Or are they "greenwashing" their product?

I don't know if you are trying to be funny regarding Barbara's testing... but if so it kind of went over like a lead ballooon....so to speak...

JoeyD
02-19-2008, 12:06 PM
Sometimes I think everyone here is running out of things to discuss and are just talking for the sake of talking. This topic could be important if we were ingesting the cable or burning it and breathing it but we are doing neither. Lets say there are hints of lead on some of the wire here in the states...are we afraid that it is going to come off of the wire once burried and leach into the groundwater? Lets go back and discuss voltage drop or something of direct relevance..........lol

irrig8r
02-19-2008, 04:26 PM
I know, the potential hazard/ danger seems slim. Especially to someone who has (for instance) handled a lot of lead fishing weights over the years and probably breathed a lot of leaded gas exhaust when I was a kid, from lawn mowers and go karts and the back window of the family station wagon...

I have a lighting contractor friend in Southern California who admits to having chewed on bits of wire insulation as kind of a nervous habit while he's working (I guess)... I kinda remember doing the same thing...

Lead accumulates in the system, and especially in younger kids, where it ends up in their brains and actually impairs learning and lowers IQ. Any opportunity we might have to weigh the costs/ benefits and find a safer, cost effective alternative is probably a good thing.

I don't t know if it's still used in molding wires (and no one has offered a definitive answer yet.) It apparently was in the recent past.... unless Barb's samples are from older wire stock.

Isotec says on their site they've taken certain chemical compounds out of the process, so that seems to imply that they were used until recently...no?

JoeyD
02-19-2008, 04:33 PM
I agree with you 100% Gregg...we need to limit it but I dont think there is any cause for panic with the wire we are working with for low voltage lighting. I think we need to be more concerned about imported products that come in more direct contact with our children.

irrig8r
02-19-2008, 10:28 PM
No Joey,
I don't think panic is the right response either. And it might be a low priority considering all the risks we assume in our day-to-day lives.

Driving on the freeway to a job site is probably a lot more risky than handling cable. Maybe eating a cheeseburger for lunch is riskier than not washing my hands thoroughly before I eat.

I'm just saying that we end users of products should be made aware of potential handling risks so we can decide how to handle them. For me, maybe it just means washing my hands more often.

If I had crews of guys working for me anymore I'd bring it up at a tailgate safety meeting and tell them the same thing. I might also tell them not to use their teeth as a third hand when up a ladder or in a tree.

It's just that LV cable appears less threatening than say... PVC primer.

If there really is a risk it isn't obvious and so maybe a label isn't a bad idea, especially saying something like "keep out of the hands of children"...

If someone can show me that there is no risk, then I'll shut up.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
02-19-2008, 10:44 PM
Thank you Gregg... I like to know what I am handling on a day to day basis. As for this thread being inconsequential and of little interest... well it sure seems to have sparked some pretty good debate and investigation.

I will be asking Domtech (the manu. of the wire I use) for any MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) info they have on their products.

Regards.

johnh
02-20-2008, 12:49 PM
Lead as well as cadmium are regularly used as stabilizers in the manufacture of PVC, and leeching is a problem, especially when exposed to the elements. Although it is only in minute quantities, I would like to see some studies on prolonged exposure (5 days a week for 15 years?) before I dismissed this. I can't speak for all suppliers, but I have checked with our manufacturer, and no lead or cadmium are used in their PVC jacket. They are ROHs compliant.
Check with your distributors/manufacturers guys. I wouldn't want to be handling it every day unless I knew.
John

irrig8r
02-20-2008, 11:25 PM
Barb says the Isotec roll that tested positive is older 8 gauge.
She doesn't use it very often, so I guess It's been sitting there a while.

ChampionLS
02-22-2008, 03:11 AM
So, tell me... are you being intentionally dense? Because in other posts I've read of yours you don't come off as the moron you do in this thread.

It makes me wonder... since you seem to be trying so hard to avert attention from the topic... what have you got to hide?

Have you even looked at the links I posted about lead compounds from Addenda?

What do you think about Isotec's claim that they're "going green" when Barb tested their wire and it came up positive. Maybe she just had an older sample? Or are they "greenwashing" their product?

I don't know if you are trying to be funny regarding Barbara's testing... but if so it kind of went over like a lead ballooon....so to speak...

Yes Greg, I was throwing a hissy fit.. Not that she's doing anything wrong. It just seems that everyone lives in fear of the unknown today. I've never heard of anyone dying early from building stained glass, or using fishing weights. I'm sure there are hundreds more examples I could post. I'll just say it again- Without doing an actual laboratory test on the wire, simply rubbing some consumer safety product on the outer surface of the jacket is not going to give you a valid answer of what type of lead, how much or how hazardous it is. We're not talking about plutonium here. You can still buy lead sheet for roof flashing at Home Depot. Every time I walk down that isle, someone has had fun squeezing and distorting it.

I don't think they are green washing their product. ALL the wire manufacturers build their wire according to UL guidelines. It's pretty standard across the board as far as Insulation material/thickness, copper stranding count/diameter of each strand is concerned. Maybe place a phone call to that company and inquire on it.

irrig8r
02-22-2008, 11:12 AM
Yes Greg, I was throwing a hissy fit.. Not that she's doing anything wrong. It just seems that everyone lives in fear of the unknown today. I've never heard of anyone dying early from building stained glass, or using fishing weights. I'm sure there are hundreds more examples I could post. I'll just say it again- Without doing an actual laboratory test on the wire, simply rubbing some consumer safety product on the outer surface of the jacket is not going to give you a valid answer of what type of lead, how much or how hazardous it is. We're not talking about plutonium here. You can still buy lead sheet for roof flashing at Home Depot. Every time I walk down that isle, someone has had fun squeezing and distorting it.

I don't think they are green washing their product. ALL the wire manufacturers build their wire according to UL guidelines. It's pretty standard across the board as far as Insulation material/thickness, copper stranding count/diameter of each strand is concerned. Maybe place a phone call to that company and inquire on it.

Well, I'm satisfied that the lead has been taken out... but why? To meet standards proscribed by European RoHS and Calif. Prop 65 rules. It's the older cable that turns out to be the issue.

You come across as a libertarian, and may diasagree, but I think that at least sometimes, government mandated standards can be the incentive industry needs to clean up their act because they create a new level playing field.

BTW, do you know anything about "E numbers" labeled on cable and what they mean?

Also, I apologize for implying (or even stating outright) that you sounded like a moron...(sexist maybe, moron no) I was over reacting to your over reaction.. your contributions to this forum are usually very enlightening.

johnh
02-22-2008, 12:26 PM
Hey Gregg, "E" numbers are the listing number with the certifying or standards body. If the cable is UL listed, and has an "e" number on it, you can call up UL and get the specs and details to which standard it complies with.

John

ChampionLS
02-22-2008, 10:53 PM
BTW, do you know anything about "E numbers" labeled on cable and what they mean?


The E code on any UL listed wire, fixture or component is the UL file wrapper history.

YES, we have a UL file. It's in my prior company's name for Evening Star Lighting. E235517


Goto this link: http://database.ul.com/cgi-bin/XYV/template/LISEXT/1FRAME/index.htm

scroll down to UL file number and enter any E code. You will find out who has the certification on the component. :drinkup: