Statement on Telecom Cables

The following statement can be attributed to a USTelecom spokesperson:

“For more than 100 years, the U.S. telecommunications industry has connected people, businesses, communities, and first responders while supporting our nation’s economy and critical infrastructure needs. As part of this commitment, our members take the health and safety of our workers and the communities in which we live and operate very seriously.

We have been unable to confirm the information reported by the Wall Street Journal because we do not have access to all of the data or methodology underlying its conclusions. We have not seen, nor have regulators identified, evidence that legacy lead-sheathed telecom cables are a leading cause of lead exposure or the cause of a public health issue.

As a highly regulated industry, we’ve implemented and maintained strong safety programs, and follow local, state, and federal environmental and public health and safety laws and regulations. Our industry also has a long tradition of closely following science and evidence as it relates to public health, environmental protection, and worker safety issues. And safe work practices within the telecommunications industry have proven effective in reducing potential lead exposures to workers. Legacy lead-sheathed telecom cables were deployed in the nation’s telecommunications infrastructure, and placement of these cables then began to get phased out in the 1950s, after the development of a new type of sheathing.

Regulators have been focused for decades on the primary and largest sources of lead in the environment like lead in motor fuels, industrial activities, lead dust from historic lead-based paint, lead in drinking water from historic distribution piping, and lead in household products, such as toys or jewelry. This regulatory focus has been highly effective, bringing national population lead levels in human blood samples down nearly 95% from the levels in the 1970s across all age groups, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The U.S. telecommunications industry stands ready to engage constructively on this issue.”

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