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Prop 65 Amendment

Prop 65 - How California is Better Informing Consumers

On August 30, 2018 amended regulations under the State of California’s Prop 65 will be put into effect. The Amendment, passed by the State in January 2017, is known as the “Clear and Reasonable Warning”. It requires that warning labels on consumer products contain a special warning symbol and identifies the chemical or chemicals which generate the hazards. The new law also provides businesses with an opportunity to opt out of the warning labeling requirements if they can show that the consumer exposures are below what is referred to as “Safe Harbor” levels. The requirements will affect all types of business including restaurants and bars, hotels, dental offices, garages and docks, amusement parks, gas stations, etc.

What is Prop 65?

The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, better known as Prop 65, requires that businesses in the State of California warn consumers about chemicals in their products, foods, beverages, or environment that can cause cancer, birth defects, and/or other reproductive harm. Currently, the State has a list of over nine hundred chemicals identified by the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) that businesses must warn consumers about. It’s virtually impossible to avoid these warnings because many of the chemicals are so entrenched in our everyday lives such as in cleaners, fried foods, alcoholic beverages, coffee, etc. In the past the warnings didn’t give consumers much information other than the fact that something in a product or environment to which the person was exposed contained some chemical that could be a “carcinogen or cause reproductive harm according to the State of California.”

Why are the Warnings Changing?

Prop 65 it is meant to inform consumers to allow them to make more informed decisions regarding their exposure to these chemicals. The amendment makes the warnings clear and useful to the public where they may have previously been unknowingly exposed to harmful substances. In addition to those chemicals that are present that cause “cancer or reproductive harm”, other consumer products will need specific warning labels. Some of these include alcoholic beverages, coffee, fried food, furniture products, diesel engine emissions, and petroleum products, etc. 

What Should I Know?

Even if your business currently labels products that fall under the Prop 65 guidelines, the labels must be changed to reflect the amendment. Prop 65 does not ban or restrict the sale of the chemicals on the OEHHA list so all parties, including manufacturers, producers, packagers, importers, suppliers, and distributors, must properly label or provide written warnings for the retailer seller.

Here are some of the specific requirements:

  • The warning must include a black exclamation point in a yellow triangle with a black outline
  • The word “WARNING” must appear in bold print and capital letters
  • Full chemical name of at least one chemical found in the product that is identified as causing cancer or birth defects.

Failure to comply with Prop 65 can incur penalties as high as $2,500 per violation per day, which could result in millions of dollars in legislative fines or court costs to California businesses each year.

It is important to engage an environmental consultant who is informed about these new regulations and can work with you on all aspects of compliance of this amendment. Some of these tasks include:

  • Chemical Risk Assessments
  • Warning label development
  • Warning sign placement assistance and audit
  • Product line management
  • “Safe Harbor” testing services
  • Employee training

Familiarizing yourself with the current amendment and enlisting the help from a knowledgeable consultant is the best way to ensure that your business is brought up to date on the new standards with clear warnings for consumers and to avoid what could be a very costly expense.