California Proposition 65

Information about this legislation and how it affects businesses & consumers

In 1986, a regulation called Proposition 65, designed to protect water sources and the public from toxic material, was passed in California. A key component of this legislation requires businesses to disclose the use of potentially carcinogenic chemicals in their products by way of the following warning label: "WARNING: This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm".

Enforcement of Prop 65 is largely left to citizens, who can file civil lawsuits against those companies apparently flouting the regulation. This has unfortunately led to a large number of seemingly petty lawsuits that are still legally valid, and cost the defendant a good amount of money to either defend or settle. What began as a well-intentioned piece of legislation has largely become a money-making venture on the part of so-called "bounty hunter" private parties and their legal counterparts.

Meanwhile, questions continue to be raised about Prop 65's efficacy. While it has led to reformulations of many consumer goods for the better, it's also led many consumers to "roll their eyes" when confronted with such warnings, limiting their impact. Worse yet, research has yet to show a significant decline in California cancer rates since 1986, according to research done by Michael Marlow, a professor at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo.

Many Prop 65 lawsuits end in settlement due to the cost (in time, money, and resources) of a successful defense – even when products meet standards. We are not strangers to this. In 2015, was sued and settled out of court because it was too costly to mount a defense. This is the reason you see Prop 65 warnings on all our pages and invoices.

Some in Congress have recognized the problems inherent to Prop 65 and similar legislation in other states; even California Governor Jerry Brown has expressed support for Prop 65 reform. Many critics of the legislation feel the issue is best addressed by the Federal government, and that a common Federal standard, along with an improved enforcement mechanism, would be more effective than dubious civil suits and the menagerie of regulations imposed by individual states.

Until such reform efforts are successful, will continue to abide by the rules set forth in Prop 65. We understand that the warnings on our site are many, and may be confusing. We encourage any of our visitors with questions regarding the safety of products we offer to contact us. Rest assured that the safety and well-being of our customers – as well as their communities and environment – will always be our main concern, whatever the political or legal landscape may be.

To view information about the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act and how Prop 65 fits into that legislation, click here.

"We won't have a society if we destroy our environment." - Margaret Mead

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