Telecom Cable Facts:

What You Need to Know

Just the Facts

  • The U.S. telecommunications industry takes the health and safety of our workers, neighbors, and the communities in which we live and operate very seriously, and we remain committed to prioritizing worker and community safety.
  • Prior to and following publication of the Wall Street Journal‘s articles in July 2023, we have not seen, nor have regulators identified, evidence that lead-sheathed telecom cables are a leading cause of lead exposure or the cause of a public health issue.
  • Recent federal, state, and industry lead testing has reinforced this point. See below for more information on these testing results.
  • Lead-sheathed telecom cables make up a small portion of the U.S. telecommunications infrastructure network.
  • In addition to continuing the industry’s longstanding robust procedures to protect employees who work around lead, several telecom companies also provide voluntary testing, at no cost, to employees who may work around lead. 
  • The U.S. telecom industry remains committed to engaging constructively on this important matter, including with policymakers and regulators.

Federal, State & Industry Testing Results

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Testing

In the fall of 2023, the EPA released the results of its own soil lead testing near aerial telecom cables in locations mentioned in the Wall Street Journal article: West Orange, New Jersey; Coal Center, Pennsylvania; California, Pennsylvania; and several locations in Louisiana.

West Orange, New Jersey:
In its review of the testing results, the EPA concluded its “scientific review of the data and current conditions in the area indicate that there are no immediate threats to the health of people nearby.”

Verizon also conducted lead testing of aerial cable at the West Orange, New Jersey location with results consistent with the EPA’s findings.  

Coal Center, Pennsylvania:
In its review of the testing results for Coal Center and neighboring California, Pennsylvania, the EPA concluded its “…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.”

Verizon’s aerial cable lead testing of the Coal Center, Pennsylvania location were consistent with the EPA’s findings.

St. Martin, Iberia, St. Mary, Ascension, Assumption, St. Charles, and Orleans Parishes, Louisiana:
In its review of the testing results at these locations in Louisiana, the EPA – in coordination with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality – concluded that its “scientific review of the data and current conditions in the area indicates that there are no immediate threats requiring prompt action to protect the health of people nearby.”

EPA’s scientific review of the data and current conditions in the area indicate that there are no immediate threats to the health of people nearby.

United States Environmental Protection Agency,
September 2023 Report, West Orange, NJ

New York State Testing

On August 1, 2023, New York Governor Kathy Hochul issued a press release announcing the results of soil sampling near a playground in Wappingers Falls, New York identified in the initial Wall Street Journal article.
Wappingers Falls, New York:
The New York Departments of Public Service, Health, and Environmental Conservation conducted the soil testing in which samples were tested at a state facility using an EPA-approved methodology.

Based on the state’s testing, Governor Hochul said, “…soil analysis shows lead levels meet state and federal safety standards for children’s play areas.” She also said, “The State’s scientific analysis found no evidence of elevated or widespread lead contamination in the area sampled.”

Following the release of the EPA’s updated lead soil guidance in January 2024, the New York State Department of Health stated, “This guidance, applied to Temple Park, indicates that the sampling results do not represent an immediate health threat…”

Verizon released information about its aerial cable lead soil testing results of the Wappingers Falls location that are consistent with the New York State Department of Health’s conclusion. 

Additional Locations Identified by the Wall Street Journal

Lake Tahoe, California:
In late July 2023, AT&T reported on results of the underwater cables in Lake Tahoe and found that these cables do not pose a public health concern and that levels of lead near the cables are consistent with normal background levels of lead in the lake. This reaffirmed the findings of the tests conducted in 2021.

Detroit, Michigan:
In July 2023, AT&T also reported on results of lead testing of aerial cables in the Detroit area. The results showed there was no meaningful difference in measured lead levels between the soil directly below the cables and background levels in the same area (e.g., across the street where no cables exist). The lead levels in soil below the cables are less than the average household soil lead levels in the Midwest as reported by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and are less than the EPA’s screening level for lead in residential soil. 

Our Commitment to You: Prioritizing Community & Worker Safety

Decrease in U.S. Population Blood Lead Levels Chart

A History of Telecom &
Our Investments in U.S. Connectivity and Safety

History of Telecom
Our Investments in U.S. Connectivity and Safety

Innovating for Communities

The U.S. telecommunications industry puts our core commitment to our customers, our communities, our employees, and our nation’s needs for connectivity first. For more than 100 years, our industry has connected people, businesses, communities, and first responders, while supporting our nation’s economy and critical infrastructure needs.

Our industry has focused enormous time and resources over decades innovating to develop and deploy new technologies that allow us to better serve and support the people and communities we operate in every day. 

Our efforts prioritize the health and safety of our workers and focus on our shared commitment to deploying high-speed broadband to connect all communities across the country. 

Through the broadband industry’s generational investments totaling nearly $2.1 trillion over the past 25 years, we are closer than ever to achieving universal coverage so all communities can reap the benefits and the opportunities of connection. In 2021, broadband providers invested $102.4 billion into the world-class networks and connectivity infrastructure enabling 92% of Americans to have high-speed internet to access health care, education, ecommerce, job training and more, no matter where they live.

These investments by U.S. broadband providers expand access, deliver competitive services, and improve connectivity that empowers communities every day. 


invested in 2022


invested since 1996