CA Proposition 65 FAQ

Q: What is Proposition 65?
A: California Proposition 65 (CA Prop 65) is formally known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Health and Safety Code, Chapter 6.6, Sections 25249.5 through 25249.13). This California law was enacted by voters as an environmental ballot initiative in November 1986. The law was intended to protect the citizens of the State of California and its drinking water resources from chemicals that are known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm.

Q: Who does Proposition 65 affect?
A: CA Prop 65 imposes requirements on persons/businesses doing business in California that have products containing specific listed chemicals. All products sold or distributed within California containing a listed chemical must comply with Proposition 65 requirements for either risk exposure and/or labeling.

Q: What does CA Prop 65 require?
A: CA Prop 65 requires the governor to publish a list of chemicals known to be carcinogens and/or reproductive toxicants, as determined by the State of California. This list, which is updated annually, designates the chemicals that are subject to this law's requirements. Over 850 chemicals have been listed as of February 2010.

CA Prop 65 does not prohibit the sale of products containing hazardous substances at any level. It does require that if these listed chemical substances are present at recognized risk levels that the product be properly labeled.

CA Prop 65 addresses exposure of these chemicals by:

•  drinking water discharges,
•  environmental exposures,
•  occupational exposures, and
•  consumer products.

CA Prop 65 requires businesses with ten or more employees to give a "clear and reasonable warning" prior to exposing any person to a detectable amount of a chemical listed by the state as covered by this statute. The warning is also required on consumer products that may present potential risk to consumers. The intent of the warning is to allow consumers to make informed decisions about the products and services they purchase, and to enable other exposed persons to take whatever action they deem appropriate to protect themselves from exposures to these harmful chemicals.

Q: What is a 60-day Notice of Violation under California Proposition 65?
A: A 60-day Notice of Violation is a legal document that is served by a private party to a manufacturer, alleging violations of CA Prop 65 warning requirements. During the 60-day notice period, the California Attorney General's office can review the allegations and take over the proceedings. At the end of the 60-day period, if the Attorney General's office did not take action, a private party would be allowed to take action against the manufacturer. The 60-day notice must provide adequate information in regards to the violation, what product(s) are in violation, and chemical hazards present to allow the manufacturer to assess the nature of the alleged violation.

Q: What if a client receives a 60-day Notice of Violation?
A: If a notice is received, the client should contact their legal team. It is recommended to seek advice from lawyers who specialize in CA Prop 65. If a legal team is needed, there are numerous firms who specialize in CA Prop 65. A client that receives a 60-day notice should wait for the official settlement before updating program requirements or choosing an approach. Limits and requirements can be altered prior to the settlement being finalized so it is best to wait before committing to testing criteria.

Q: What kinds of chemicals are on the list?
A: The Proposition 65 list contains two types of chemicals: carcinogens (cancer-causing substances), and reproductive toxicants (substances that cause birth defects or other reproductive harm). The list contains a wide range of chemicals. Many of them are ingredients or components of common household products, such as ceramic ware, alcoholic beverages and aspirin. Others may be industrial chemicals, dyes, or solvents used in dry cleaning, manufacturing, or construction, such as benzene, cadmium, perchloroethylene and formaldehyde. Still others may be byproducts of certain combustion processes, such as motor vehicle exhaust, airline exhaust, tobacco smoke and burning natural gas. Lead, which is both a carcinogen and reproductive toxin, has been one of the most often litigated chemicals

Q: How does a chemical get listed?
A: A chemical can be listed if it has been classified as a carcinogen or reproductive toxicant by one of the following organizations: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; U.S. Food and Drug Administration; National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health; the National Toxicology Program; and the 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 reproductive toxicant by an agency of the state or federal government. Additionally, the governor appoints two independent committees of scientists and health professionals that can determine if a chemical should be listed, based on scientific evidence that definitively shows it to cause cancer or reproductive harm.

Q: Should a client test to all 850+ chemicals on the CA Prop 65 chemical list?
A: Even though safe harbor limits are associated with each of the chemicals listed in the Proposition 65 list, it does not include regulatory limits for the amount of chemical that would be contained in a specific product type. Therefore, it is not recommended to test for all 850+ chemicals in the list. Bureau Veritas' default position is to test to settlements that we are aware of and that have established limits and/or labeling requirements and pertain to specific product types.

Q: When is a warning required under Proposition 65?
A: A warning is required under Proposition 65 when a business knows or should know that there is a potential for persons to be exposed to hazardous chemicals as defined by the Act. Despite the broad wording of Proposition 65, not every hazardous substance triggers a notice and warning obligation pursuant to Proposition 65. The circumstances in which Proposition 65's warning requirements do not apply to a potential exposure of a listed chemical are as follows:

1. Any chemical exposure for which federal law governs the warnings in a manner, which preempts state authority;
2. Any exposure which takes place less than twelve months after the chemical has first been placed on the Governor's list; or
3. Any exposure which "poses no significant risk assuming lifetime exposure at the level in questions" for substances known to cause cancer or if "exposure will have no observable effect assuming exposure at one thousandth of the level in question for substances known to the state to cause reproductive toxicity."
4. The exposure is to a naturally occurring chemical in food.

However, the burden of proving the existence of one of these exceptions is on the defendant in a Proposition 65 case. This can be a very difficult and expensive defense to prove.

Q: Examples of warning statement and the requirements for placement?
A: For Carcinogens: "WARNING: Using this product will expose you to a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer."

For Reproductive Toxins: "WARNING: Using this product will expose you to a chemical known to the State of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm."

These warnings must be displayed in one or more of the following methods depending on the settlement requirements:

•  product labeling
•  retail outlet warnings
•  warning information system

Q: Who enforces Proposition 65?
•  The California Attorney General's Office
•  Local city district attorneys
•  Others including lawyers, environmentalists, and the public

Note: The California Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) is designated by the Governor as the lead agency for Proposition 65 implementation but has no enforcement powers.

Q: What are the fines and penalties under Proposition 65?
•  Proposition 65 can impose a fine of $2,500 per exposure per day.
•  The average settlement cost is approximately $65,000.
•  Fines and penalties are split between the state and the plaintiffs, however, plaintiffs can petition the court for attorney's fees and costs.
•  Settlements involving large groups of manufacturers and retailers have been known to total in the million plus dollar range. Examples are the fishing tackle, faucets and diaper cream settlements all of which totaled over a million dollars.

Q: Where can I obtain additional information on Proposition 65?
A: For additional information on Proposition 65, please refer to a document entitled "Proposition 65 in Plain Language" on the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) website:

For a complete list of Prop 65 chemicals, please refer to the following website:

For more information on Prop 65 and Bureau Veritas' Services, please contact your Program Manager or Customer Service Representative, or email

Bureau Veritas Consumer Products Services, Inc. ("BVCPS") provides the information in these frequently asked questions "as is." In no event will BVCPS be liable for any loss in profits, business, use or data or for indirect, special, incidental, consequential or other damages of any kind in connection with these frequently asked questions. These frequently asked questions are a resource of general information and do not constitute the legal or other professional advice of BVCPS. Readers of these frequently asked questions should seek legal counsel regarding statutory or regulatory requirements discussed in these frequently asked questions. BVCPS DISCLAIMS ALL REPRESENTATIONS AND WARRANTIES, WHETHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, IN CONNECTION WITH THESE FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS.

Copyright © 2013 Bureau Veritas Consumer Products Services, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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