Proposition 65 is a broad law that applies to any company operating in California, selling products in California, or manufacturing products that may be sold in or brought into California. It mandates that the Governor of California maintain and publish a list of chemicals that are known to cause cancer, birth defects and/or other reproductive harm. The list, which must be updated annually, includes a wide variety of chemicals that can be found in many everyday items, such as coffee, dyes, solvents, drugs, food-additives, and by-products of certain processes. The purpose of Proposition 65 is to ensure that people are informed about exposure to these chemicals.
Proposition 65 also requires warnings to be placed on any product, product packaging, or literature accompanying a product that contains or may contain any of the 800-plus chemicals that the California Air Resources Board considers harmful. As noted above, many of the elements listed under Proposition 65 have been routinely used in everyday consumer items for years without documented harm.
A warning must be given if the listed chemical is merely present in a product unless a business demonstrates that the exposure it causes poses “no significant risk.” With respect to carcinogens, the “no significant risk” level is defined as the level which is calculated to result in not more than one excess case of cancer in 100,000 individuals exposed over a 70-year lifetime. In other words, if you are exposed to the chemical in question at this level every day for 70 years, theoretically, it will increase your chances of getting cancer by no more than 1 case in 100,000 individuals so exposed.
With respect to reproductive intoxicants, the “no significant risk” level is defined as the level of exposure which, even if multiplied by 1,000, will not produce birth defects or other reproductive harm. In other words, the level of exposure is below the “no observable effect level,” divided by 1,000. (The “no observable effect level” is the highest dose level which has not been associated with observable reproductive harm in humans or test animals.)
A Proposition 65 warning generally means one of two things: (1) the business has evaluated the exposure and has concluded that it exceeds the “no significant risk level”; or (2) the business has chosen to provide a warning simply based on its knowledge about the presence of a listed chemical without attempting to evaluate the exposure. Companies have chosen to provide a warning based on its knowledge about the presence of one or more listed chemicals without attempting to evaluate the level of exposure, as not all of the listed chemicals provide exposure limit requirements. With our products, the exposure may be negligible or well within the “no significant risk” range. However, out of an abundance of caution, we have elected to provide the Proposition 65 warnings.
The penalties for not complying with Proposition 65 are high. As a result of the potential penalties and because there is no penalty for providing an unnecessary warning, as well as many other manufacturers, have elected to provide the Proposition 65 notice out of an abundance of caution in order to avoid the potential for liability.
It would be extremely difficult and costly to determine which products will be ultimately sold or brought into California. Therefore, to ensure compliance with Proposition 65 requirements, we have decided to include these warnings on all of our products, regardless of destination.
For more information about Proposition 65 visit the OEHA website.