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California Considering Changes to Proposition 65 Warnings on Hazardous Chemicals

Thursday, July 18, 2013
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment will hold a public workshop July 30 to gather input on the content of a regulation that, if formally proposed and adopted, would change the content of Proposition 65 warnings. This workshop will be held at the Cal/EPA Headquarters Building in Sacramento and will also be webcast here.

Proposition 65 (officially the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986) requires the state of California to publish a list of chemicals known to cause cancer or birth defects or other reproductive harm. This list must be updated at least once a year and has grown to include approximately 800 chemicals, including additives or ingredients in pesticides, common household products, foods, drugs, dyes or solvents. Businesses must notify Californians about significant amounts of such chemicals in the products they purchase, in their homes or workplaces, or that are released into the environment.

OEHHA, which administers the Proposition 65 program, is considering a rulemaking that it says would provide for more informative and meaningful warnings. This regulation would offer a variety of options for businesses required to provide these warnings and would give them greater certainty that their warnings comply with Proposition 65. OEHHA currently believes such a regulation should include the following.

- a requirement that a warning inform individuals that they will be exposed to a listed chemical

- the minimum information that must be included in all warnings, including the health effect (cancer, male reproductive toxicity, female reproductive toxicity, developmental toxicity) for which the chemical(s) involved in the exposure was listed, information on how a person will be exposed, and, where applicable, simple information (such as washing hands) on how to avoid or reduce an exposure

- approved warning methods and content for use by product manufacturers and retailers regarding exposures to listed chemicals from consumer products and in foods, including those sold at retail establishments and via the Internet (these methods may include alternatives to on-product warnings)

- approved warning methods and content for environmental exposures, including exposures an individual may experience when entering or spending time in an area where listed chemicals are present (e.g., parking structures, food courts, hotels, apartments and other businesses)

- requirements and approved methods for providing additional contextual information concerning exposures to listed chemicals, which would allow individuals to learn more (e.g., on a Web site or other generally accessible location) about some or all of the specific chemicals involved in the exposure and the applicability of other state and federal laws to these exposures

- reasonable transition times for businesses to come into compliance with the regulation and recognition of existing warnings included in court-approved settlements

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