U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to closely review and act
on the issues raised in the Wall Street Journal’s investigation
of lead covered telecommunications cables across the U.S. As part of this work,
EPA sampled soil for lead in an area near some telecommunications cables in
Coal Center, PA and California, PA. EPA’s scientific review of the data and
current conditions in the area indicate that there are no threats to the health
of people nearby that would warrant an immediate EPA response action.
results do show that some soil samples have lead concentrations above an EPA
screening level of 400 parts per million. All areas tested were primarily from
areas covered with grass. Well maintained grass provides a natural barrier to
reduce exposure and a good cover to prevent soil dust from being easily kicked
up. EPA’s assessment of the data takes into account that most of the areas
sampled are covered with grass and are not where children gather for long
periods of time.
established a national working group to consider next steps to ensure the
public remains safe. These steps may include further analyses to better
understand if the cables have released and continue to release lead. Any future
actions will be done in coordination with state and local leaders, and the
public will remain informed of any actions taken.
addition to sampling, EPA has required major telecommunications companies to
provide us with information needed to evaluate the nature and extent of
releases or threatened releases of lead from telecommunications cables and
equipment in this area, including results of inspections the companies have
undertaken, as well as sampling results and data.
on EPA Sampling Effort
uses screening-level sampling to initially characterize soil lead
concentrations. On August 3-5, 2023, EPA sampled soil in publicly accessible
areas directly underneath lead-covered telecommunications cables and the
opposite side between the road and the sidewalk in Coal Center and California,
PA communities. EPA collected 31 surface soil samples from below the
lead-covered cables and 9 surface soil samples from the opposite side of the
Can You Do to Reduce Lead Exposure?
following steps are recommended to reduce your potential exposure to lead
contamination that may be present in urban soil.
shoes at the door before entering your home to prevent tracking in any
dirt that may be on your shoes. Clean the bottom of your shoes with a wet
wipe or paper towel.
your hands and face after coming in from outside and before eating,
drinking, or smoking. Wash children’s toys and items they place in their
digging into or disturbing soil if possible, and wash hands and face