Lead in Wire? What me worry??

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting, Feb 13, 2008.

  1. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,102

    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.


    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.
    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
  2. ChampionLS

    ChampionLS LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,066


    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.

  3. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,102

    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.
  4. irrig8r

    irrig8r LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,553

    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?
  5. ChampionLS

    ChampionLS LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,066

    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.
  6. irrig8r

    irrig8r LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,553

    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 I mentioned? Are you saying someone reaps profits from such a story?
  7. YardPro

    YardPro LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,570

    the Christmas lights have lead in the sockets of the lights, not the wire coating
  8. Venturewest

    Venturewest LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 516

  9. eskerlite

    eskerlite LawnSite Member
    Messages: 222

    Is ther any lead in solder now? Steve P. can You answer this?
    Sean C.
  10. steveparrott

    steveparrott LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,276

    We don't sell solder but recomend the use of lead-free tin solder.

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