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.
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. Over 700 chemicals and materials, including many metals and plastics, have been listed as of March 10, 2000. Second, it requires Manufacturers to provide a "clear and reasonable" warning before 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.
It means that the Manufacturer issuing the warning believes that one or more listed chemicals are present in its product, even if it is only present in trace quantities. We use language approved by the State of California as follows:
WARNING: The product in Brass finish contains lead, a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm.
What kinds of chemicals and materials are on the list?
The list contains a wide range of chemicals and materials, including many metals and plastics, dyes, solvents, pesticides, drugs, food additives, and by-products of certain processes. These chemicals may be naturally occurring, or synthetic. Some of them are ingredients in common household products, others are specialty chemicals used in common industrial applications.
The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, OEHHA, maintains a comprehensive website at http://www.oehha.org/prop65.html. This website explains the law and offers a list of all the chemicals and materials. You can also e-mail or telephone the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment's Proposition 65 Implementation Office at (916) 445-6900.