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July 31, 2023

AT&T and Verizon are Facing Potential Consequences for Lead Cables


Recently, there has been a growing concern regarding the presence of lead-covered telephone cables installed across the United States many decades ago. Reports suggest that telecom giants like AT&T and Verizon need to address the potential health risks associated with these cables and identify their locations for remediation. As this issue gains attention, lawmakers, including US Sen. Edward Markey, are urging telecom companies to take responsibility and ensure the safety of communities affected by these toxic cables.

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Lead-Covered Cables:

A Lingering Hazard: A recent investigative report by the Wall Street Journal titled "America Is Wrapped in Miles of Toxic Lead Cables" has shed light on the issue. The report revealed evidence of over 2,000 lead-covered cables, with the potential for many more spread throughout the country. Soil samples collected near these cables showed the highest levels of lead directly beneath or adjacent to the cables, indicating that the lead was leaching into the environment.

Calls for Accountability:

US Sen. Edward Markey expressed his concerns in a letter to USTelecom, the industry trade group, demanding answers and accountability from telecom companies. He questioned whether the companies were aware of the locations and mileage of the lead-sheathed cables and criticized their failure to monitor and address the potential risks. Markey also urged the companies to commit to testing for soil and water contamination caused by the cables, remediate any contamination, and provide medical treatment and compensation to individuals harmed by lead poisoning.

Lawmakers Joining the Cause:

Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. emphasized the urgency of addressing the issue, stating that there is no safe level of lead exposure. Rep. Patrick Ryan also expressed his concerns and hinted at potential legislation to remediate the contamination caused by the cables. The significance of the issue has not gone unnoticed by industry analysts either, who suggest that telecom companies may face substantial financial exposure if the situation is not properly handled.

USTelecom's Response:

USTelecom, in response to the mounting concerns, stated that there is no evidence to suggest that the lead-sheathed telecom cables are a leading cause of lead exposure or a public health issue. The trade group emphasized its commitment to health and safety while acknowledging the use of lead alloys in telecom cables in the past. USTelecom also launched a dedicated website, "Telecom Cable Facts," to provide information and address concerns related to the cables.

Worker Health Risks:

The Wall Street Journal further highlighted the potential health risks faced by workers who were exposed to lead during cable installation and maintenance. Former employees reported that the telecom companies were aware of the risks but failed to take sufficient action to mitigate them. Some workers experienced neurological disorders, kidney ailments, gastrointestinal issues, and cardiovascular problems—conditions associated with lead exposure.

Telecom Companies Respond:

AT&T and Verizon, the two major telecom companies mentioned in the report, responded to the allegations. AT&T criticized the testing methodologies used by the Wall Street Journal, calling them flawed. The company asserted that it follows established science, complies with applicable laws, and manages legacy lead-clad cables responsibly. Verizon acknowledged the concerns and pledged to test sites where contamination was found.

The Impact and Way Forward:

The presence of lead-covered cables raises questions about public health and environmental impact. While USTelecom states that removing these cables may not always be the best solution, it acknowledges the need to assess the situation considering factors such as worker safety, environmental impact, and infrastructure demands. It is imperative that telecom companies take proactive measures to address this issue, ensuring the safety of both communities and workers.


The concerns surrounding toxic lead-covered telephone cables have sparked demands for action from lawmakers, including US Sen. Edward Markey. With evidence of lead contamination and potential health risks, telecom companies like AT&T and Verizon face mounting pressure to address the issue responsibly. The involvement of government representatives and the potential financial exposure for these companies indicate the seriousness of the matter. It is crucial for the telecom industry to take swift action, prioritize public health, and work towards mitigating the environmental impact caused by these lead-covered cables.

A recent study conducted by the National Institute on Aging revealed that prolonged exposure to lead, such as that caused by lead-covered telephone cables, may have long-term cognitive implications for individuals approaching retirement age and beyond. The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in March 2023, found a significant association between lead exposure and accelerated cognitive decline in older adults. This new information further highlights the urgency of addressing the issue of lead-covered cables and underscores the potential impact on the cognitive health of our target audience as they plan for their retirement years.

Discover the alarming truth about ancient lead-covered telephone cables installed across the US decades ago. Learn how AT&T and Verizon's cables are raising health concerns among retirees and Fortune 500 workers looking to retire. A Wall Street Journal investigation reveals evidence of over 2,000 toxic lead cables, with the potential for many more. US lawmakers demand action, urging telecom companies to address potential health risks and provide medical treatment. New research highlights the cognitive implications of lead exposure in older adults, adding urgency to the situation. Uncover the facts and understand the need for remediation efforts. Stay informed about this pressing issue that affects communities nationwide.

In the realm of communication, AT&T and Verizon's ancient lead cables resemble hidden toxins lurking beneath the surface. Like aging bridges that demand immediate attention to ensure public safety, these cables, dating back to the early days of telecommunication, silently pose health risks. Just as diligent engineers and lawmakers inspect and repair decaying infrastructure, US lawmakers are now demanding action to address the potential hazards of these cables. Just as retiring Fortune 500 workers meticulously plan their post-career lives, it is crucial to address this issue to secure a safe and healthy future for communities. The time has come for telecom giants to take responsibility, test for contamination, and remediate the environmental impact caused by these toxic cables, paving the way for a seamless transition into retirement, free from lingering concerns. 

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