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Q: What is California Proposition 65?
A: In 1986, California voters approved the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, also known as Proposition 65. The purpose of Proposition 65 is to ensure that people are informed about exposure to chemicals known by the State of California to cause cancer, birth defects and/or other reproductive harm.
Q: What are the requirements of Proposition 65?
A: Proposition 65 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 dyes, solvents, drugs, food-additives, by-products of certain processes, pesticides and tobacco products.
A chemical can be listed if it has been classified as a carcinogen or as a reproductive toxicant by an organization deemed "authoritative" on the subject. For carcinogens, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the National Toxicology Program, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer are deemed authoritative. With respect to reproductive toxicants, the authorities are the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and International Agency for Research on Cancer. A chemical can also be listed if it is required to be labeled or identified as a carcinogen or as a reproductive toxicant by an agency of the state or federal government.
A company with ten or more employees that operates within the State of California (or sells products in California) must comply with the requirements of Proposition 65. To comply, businesses are: (1) prohibited from knowingly discharging listed chemicals into sources of drinking water; and (2) required to provide a "clear and reasonable" warning before knowingly and intentionally exposing anyone to a listed chemical.
Q: With a label that says "This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and/or birth defects or other reproductive harm," how can I trust that the product is safe?
A: If a Proposition 65 warning is posted, it means that the business issuing the warning knows that one or more listed chemicals are merely present in its product. A warning must be given 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 toxicants, 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.
The California government has also clarified that “The fact that a product bears a Proposition 65 warning does not mean by itself that the product is unsafe.” The government has also explained, “You could think of Proposition 65 more as a ‘right to know’ law than a pure product safety law.”
Q: Why has Lortone placed a Proposition 65 warning on its products?
A: Lortone has 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. With Lortone's products, the exposure may be negligible or well within the “no significant risk” range. However, out of an abundance of caution, Lortone has elected to place the Proposition 65 warning signs on its products.
For further information about California’s Proposition 65, please visit http://oehha.ca.gov/prop65/background/p65plain.html.