Lead poisoning in telephone cable strippers: a new setting for an old problem

Am J Ind Med. 1996 Sep;30(3):351-4. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1097-0274(199609)30:3<351::AID-AJIM14>3.0.CO;2-V.


Lead poisoning among workers processing lead sheathed telephone cable was identified at five worksites. High blood lead levels (BLLs) were identified during the medical evaluation of symptomatic workers following employer mandated air monitoring and through employer mandated blood lead levels. Once high BLLs were identified, governmental agencies became involved at every site, either as a result of worker complaints to OSHA or as a registry reporting mechanism. Workplace evaluation revealed significant overexposure to lead, particularly among workers mechanically stripping the lead sheaths. After intervention by a government agency, four of the workplaces chose to stop lead cable processing. Because the ongoing replacement of lead sheathed telephone cable with fiber optics may be continuing in many areas of the country, there is concern that the clusters we have identified represents a widespread and little recognized setting for lead overexposure. Recommendations for preventing overexposure to lead in this setting are given.

MeSH terms

  • Conservation of Natural Resources / methods*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Epidemiological Monitoring
  • Humans
  • Lead / analysis
  • Lead Poisoning / blood
  • Lead Poisoning / epidemiology*
  • Lead Poisoning / prevention & control
  • Mid-Atlantic Region / epidemiology
  • Occupational Diseases / blood
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / prevention & control
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Occupations*
  • Safety Management
  • Sentinel Surveillance*
  • Space-Time Clustering


  • Lead