In November 1986, California voters approved a ballot initiative to address concerns about exposures to toxic chemicals. That initiative became The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, better known by its original name, Proposition 65.
New regulations were adopted in August 2016 that amend the current provision for “clear and reasonable” Proposition 65 warnings. The new regulations will become effective August 30, 2018, and apply to products manufactured on or after this date.
First, it requires the Governor of California to publish a list of chemicals that are known to the State of California to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm. This list, which must be updated at least once a year, has grown to include more than 900 chemicals since it was first published in 1987.
Second, it requires that businesses provide a "clear and reasonable" warning before knowingly and intentionally exposing anyone to a listed chemical. This warning can be given by a variety of means, such as by labeling a consumer product, by posting signs at the workplace, or by publishing notices in a newspaper.
A warning means the business issuing it is aware or believes that one or more listed chemicals may be present in its product, even if only in trace amounts.
CALIFORNIA PROP 65: WARNING: Cancer and Reproductive Harm - www.P65Warnings.ca.gov
Note that the warning does not mean our products inevitably cause cancer or reproductive harm. Proposition 65 may be best defined as a “Right To Know” law, and Proposition 65 warnings are not an indication that a product is violating safety standards or regulations.
Proposition 65 does not ban or restrict the use of the chemicals on the list, which includes many common metals and plastics. A warning must be given if the listed chemical is merely present in a product unless a business demonstrates the level of exposure 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.
The list contains a wide range of naturally occurring and synthetic materials and chemicals that include additives or ingredients in pesticides, common household products, food, drugs, dyes, or solvents. Listed chemicals may also be used in manufacturing and construction, or they may be byproducts of chemical processes, such as motor vehicle exhaust. The entire list is available for viewing or download at https://oehha.ca.gov/proposition-65/proposition-65-list
The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, (OEHHA) administers the Proposition 65 program and maintains a comprehensive website at https://www.p65warnings.ca.gov. This website explains the law, addresses Frequently Asked Questions, and provides a link to the P65 list of chemicals.