CALIFORNIA PROP 65 FAQ
WHAT IS CALIFORNIA PROP 65?
California Proposition 65 is a law that is unique to the State of California. Regulations concerning the law are processed through the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), which maintains a list of chemicals that it determines as ‘known to the State of California to cause cancer and/or reproductive toxicity’.
Prop 65 prohibits anyone in the course of doing business in California or selling a product to a consumer in California to knowingly and intentionally expose any individual to a chemical, even in very minimal amounts, that the California OEHHA has added to the list, without giving a warning.
It requires all sorts of businesses and establishments to post warning signs because the food, drinks, paint on the walls, air, or products they sell contain any one of 935 chemicals that may be on a list that California has determined cause cancer or reproductive harm. The warning signs and labels are meant to warn consumers of possible exposure before they frequent an establishment or purchase a product.
As a result, Californians regularly and routinely see warning signs and labels on thousands of buildings, restaurants, and common products – including household, outdoor, hobby, leisure, business supplies, and even gas, foods and wines. Due to the nearly 1000 chemicals included on the list, most places and products are at risk of containing one or more of the target chemicals. This has resulted in what some call a “Warning-Information-Overload”.
WHY DOES THE PRODUCT I’VE BOUGHT CONTAIN A WARNING?
California Proposition 65 entitles California consumers to special warnings for products that contain chemicals determined by the state of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm if those products expose consumers to such chemicals above a certain level set by California.
HOW DOES CA PROP 65 DIFFER FROM FEDERAL REGULATIONS UNDER THE CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY IMPROVEMENT ACT (CPSIA)?
Unlike the nationally followed CPSIA regulations, Prop 65 does not ban the presence of the listed chemicals in products, but does require a warning label or sign if the product may possibly be sold to a consumer in California.
Proposition 65 is based upon ‘exposure’ to chemicals listed by OEHHA. Exposure is determined by the chemical level in relation to how a consumer comes in contact with the substance and the duration of contact.
Primarily, the law is a ‘Warning’ statute, in order for individuals to make an informed decision.
Prop 65 gives so-called “private citizen enforcers” (often referred to as bounty hunters) the power to enforce the law. Generally lawyers and their ‘repeat use plaintiff litigants’, having a propensity to “work the system”, are the actual ‘citizen enforcers’, and they get a cut of every penalty businesses are forced to pay plus enormous sums of attorney fees and costs. It’s a very lucrative field for the ‘private enforcers’. Businesses often opt to put Prop 65 warnings onto any product remotely probable for litigation as a precaution against lawsuits, and because a trace amount of one of the 935 listed chemicals may be present in some component of the product (e.g. the stop point of a zipper, or a hook). No other law gives ‘citizen enforcers’ such authority.
DOES CA PROP 65 APPLY TO ALL PRODUCTS?
Yes, Prop 65 applies to all consumer products, both children’s and adult products.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF A PROPOSITION 65 WARNING?
The purpose of Proposition 65 is to notify consumers that they are being exposed to chemicals that are determined by California to cause cancer and/or reproductive toxicity. Consumers can decide on their own if they want to purchase or use the product. A Proposition 65 warning does not necessarily mean a product is in violation of any product-safety standard, law or regulation.
WHAT CHEMICALS ARE IDENTIFIED ON THE OEHHA LIST AND WHAT ARE SAFE HARBOR LEVELS, NO SIGNIFICANT RISK LEVELS AND MAXIMUM ALLOWABLE DOSE LEVELS?
In 2015, over 935 chemicals are on the OEHHA list.
Safe Harbor Levels, which include No Significant Risk Levels (NSRLs) for cancer-causing chemicals and Maximum Allowable Dose Levels (MADLs) for chemicals causing reproductive toxicity, are levels of exposure that trigger the warning requirement for many of the listed chemicals, as determined by OEHHA. However, OEHHA does not have Safe Harbor Levels for all listed chemicals. If there is no Safe Harbor Level, businesses that expose individuals to that chemical would be required to provide a Proposition 65 Warning unless the business can demonstrate the anticipated exposure level will not pose a significant risk of cancer or reproductive harm.
Determining anticipated levels of exposure to listed chemicals can be very complex. It is very problematic and costly to try and prove that the presence of a listed chemical is what California might consider a No Significant Risk Level (NSRL) or Maximum Allowable Dose Level (MADL).
IS THE PRODUCT SAFE?
We emphasize that a Proposition 65 warning does not necessarily mean a product is in violation of any product-safety standards or requirements. All IDGamut products meet federal regulatory standards. Some products may contain one or more listed chemicals that, by California standards may present a risk of cancer and/or reproductive toxicity, if exposure levels to an individual are high. The Warning is provided to allow consumers to assess their individual risk.
WHAT ABOUT SIMILAR PRODUCTS WITH NO WARNING LABELS?
You can’t assume that products without warning labels are chemical free or exempt from the Prop 65 warning requirement. It’s possible that the product isn’t sold in California – the only state that requires this warning label. And some companies only put the labels on products that will be sold in California, so you won’t see them unless you buy the product there. Finally, older products sold prior to when the labeling requirement went into effect, may also contain the listed chemical(s).
WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION?
For general information on a CA Prop 65 list of chemicals and review FAQs from The California regulatory OEHHA’s website, please access: http://oehha.ca.gov/prop65/p65faq.html