Don't Chew Wire Coatings: The Plastic May Contain
from Impact Volume XVI, No. 1 May 1998)
CPWR – Center for Construction Research and Training
Doctors in Ohio could not figure out why an electrician had a high blood-lead
level. The level of 50 micrograms per deciliter would be high enough to
require his employer to transfer him to different work, under OSHA rules.
Yet the man's house did not have lead paint and his activities did not
seem to expose him to lead.
Seven months after the first medical exam showed a high blood-lead level,
the doctors figured out the problem. The man said he chewed on the plastic
coating of electrical wire he was working with. White, blue, and yellow
coatings on the copper wire were tested. They had high levels of lead.
After the man stopped chewing the coatings, his blood-lead level returned
Lead can cause anemia, damage your kidneys, brain, and nervous system,
and harm reproduction. If you feel unexplained upset stomach, cramps,
weakness, or joint pain or, if you have questions, ask your doctor. Or
call the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (1-800-35NIOSH)
or CPWR at 301-578-8500.
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