California to Require Hazard Warnings on Products Containing Twelve Common Chemicals

Anyone who has ever been to California is familiar with the ubiquitous Proposition 65 signs, “WARNING: This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm.”  Applying to any product sold in the state of California, Proposition 65 traces origins to a 1986 voter initiative. Because of the overuse of the vague warning, the ubiquitous signs ultimately communicate very little information to the end user. This problem has been recognized by California courts, advocates, and businesses. Proposed changes to the rule could require manufacturers to provide detailed information on chemicals in products sold in the state of California.

By the end of 2014, California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) is expected to formally propose changes to Proposition 65. OEHHA has released a pre-regulatory draft of the potential changes that are cause for concern. Based on the pre-regulatory draft, potential changes could include:

  • Requiring manufacturers to provide a detailed report to OEHHA that includes the manufacturer’s contact information, anticipated route of exposure of the chemical, anticipated level of human exposure to the chemical, and steps a person can take to minimize or eliminate exposure;
  • Eliminating safe harbor language, which would require the warning label language to say “can expose” instead of “chemical is present;”
  • Identifying 12 chemicals that must be specifically named on any warning label. These chemicals are: acrylamide, arsenic, benzene, cadmium, chlorinated tris, 1,4-dioxane, formaldehyde, lead, mercury, phthalates, tobacco smoke, and toluene; and
  • Requiring the use of a new pictogram.

IPC continues to monitor these developments and will be hosting a timely, in-depth panel discussion on this topic during IPC APEX EXPO in February 2015. The panel will include an industry perspective, a representative from OEHHA, and a company representative to talk about how the changes would impact them.

More information can be found at


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