Your Extension Cords Cause Cancer


We recently purchased an extension cord at the local Wal-Mart for a dehumidifier.  The most useful place for this dehumidifier was in the middle of the house, which was in the hallway outside the children’s bedroom.  There is no outlet in that hallway.   Hence the need for the extension cord.  We planned to run it along the back wall of the children’s room.  It would be mostly out of sight, except for the bit that ran in front of the closet.  They wouldn’t likely execute themselves, but maybe they’d touch it now and again.  And that couldn’t hurt them, right?



We opened up the package and were greeted by a warning from the state of California.  It read:

WARNING: Handling the power cord on this product will expose you to lead, a chemical known to the State of California to cause [cancer and] birth defects or other reproductive harm. WASH HANDS AFTER HANDLING

Lead.  You know, the reason the government is planning on banning all things child-related that hasn’t undergone expensive testing?  The reason work-at-home-moms everywhere will be closing their Etsy shops in February?

Lead.  In the extension cord.  We went back to exchange if for one that didn’t contain lead.  Surely this was an anomily, right?

Wrong.  We read the packaging on every singe cord Wal-Mart sells.  Lead in all of them.

Raise your hand if you have an extension cord in your house.

Or a surge protector.

(Yep, those too.  We checked.)

And to make it even scarier, all it takes it handling the cord for 10 seconds to leave traces of lead on your fingers.  And think of all the things you touch.  Babies, food, pacifiers, silverware…

After reading this, I began the internet search for lead-free power cords.  And I found that the European Union (they seem to beat us to everything, don’t they?) has already “ban[ned] the placing on the EU market of new electrical and electronic equipment containing more than agreed levels of lead, cadmium, mercury, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyl (PBB) and polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants.” Their cords are RoHS (Restricion of Hazardous Materials) compliant.

However, the shipping of their cords cost more than the cords themselves.

So, after Googling “RoHS compliant extension cords”, I found a US company with an RoHS compliant 10 foot cord on sale (cheaper than Wal-Mart!) with reasonable shipping.  (The total came to $11.94.)  We bought one.  After discussing the replacement of all extension cords and surge protectors in the house, we came to the conclusion that the only necessary one was the one that was to go through the children’s bedroom.

We’ll just have to keep eagle eyes on the children when they approach the back of the entertainment center or computer desk.  And only touch said cords with rags.

But I thought you should know.  Please, spread the word!

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