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Aug 13, 2009

Poisonous Lead (Pb) in Electrical Power Cords

by J. Robert Burgoyne — last modified Aug 14, 2009 03:13 PM

Did you know that many household power cords contain lead (Pb), a highly poisonous substance? I was recently surprised to read the warning label on an extension cord I purchased.


Ace Hardware Extension Cord Label with Warning About Lead The adjacent image is a scan of the label attached to an electrical power cord I recently purchased.

Click the image to see it full-size and note the warning regarding the power cord's lead content.

The warning label says:

"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."

Sadly, many power cords still contain lead. If you use a power cord that contains lead with your vacuum cleaner, you're potentially brushing the cord over your carpet where your children and pets play. Keep reading - there's a way around this.

How dangerous is lead? You might want to read this excerpt from Wikipedia or this Wikipedia article about Lead Poisoning. There's also a group, the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning with useful information on their website.

Help is On The Way to Remove Lead from Your Life

There is a formal initiative to stop the use of hazardous materials in electrical devices. It's called the Reduction of Hazardous Substances Directive, or RoHS. The goal is to remove hazardous substances like lead from electrical devices. RoHS took effect in 2006 in the European Union, via EU Directive 2002/95/EC. RoHS compliance is not mandatory in the USA, but manufacturers can voluntarily comply with the RoHS directive at their discretion - and help is on the way.

Not every power cable or surge protector contains lead.

I recently purchased a Tripp Lite Surge Protector, model: TLP602, because the packaging had an RoHS Compliant logo. I subsequently called Tripp Lite to ask them about their RoHS policy and was directed to their website, where I found:

  • Tripp Lite's formal declaration that if they use the RoHS logo on a product, the product will in fact be compliant with EU Directive 2002/95/EC (RoHS)

True Blade will be doing additional research into the use of lead in electrical devices with the goal of helping offices and families stay safe, healthy, and lead-free.

Register your contact information with us if you would like to receive more information in the future regarding our findings.