Cancer Warning Labels Based on California's Proposition 65 (2022)

Labels warning that a product contains chemicals that may cause cancer, birth defects, or reproductive harm are now required on many household items sold in California. But people all over the country might see them because many companies put the labels on all items that contain these chemicals, even if they’re going to be sold in other states. The warning labels can be found on many kinds of products, such as electrical wires, jewelry, padlocks, dishes, flashlights, and pesticides, to name just a few.

What is proposition 65?

California’s Proposition 65, also called the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, first became law in the state in 1986. It is intended to help Californians make informed decisions about protecting themselves from chemicals that could cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm.

As part of the law, the state is required to publish a list of chemicals that are “known to the State of California to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity.” The list is updated at least once a year and now contains more than 900 different chemicals. The complete list can be found on theCalifornia Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment(OEHHA) website at https://oehha.ca.gov/chemicals

There are several ways a substance can be added to the OEHHA list. One way is if it’s considered by an ‘authoritative body’ to cause cancer in humans or lab animals. Organizations designated as authoritative bodies by the state of California include the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC, which is part of the World Health Organization), the US National Toxicology Program (NTP), and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), among others. (To learn more about these organizations and what they do, see Determining if Something Is a Carcinogen.) The State of California can also make its own determinations about specific substances.

Not all of the cancer-related substances on the OEHHA list are considered to be known human carcinogens (known to cause cancer in people) by the organizations above. This means that not every chemical on the list has been proven to the worldwide scientific community to actually cause cancer in people.

(Video) Why Cancer Labels Are Super Misleading

When are labels required?

As part of the law, most businesses selling products in California must provide “clear and reasonable warnings” before knowingly exposing people to any chemical on the list, unless the expected level of exposure would pose no significant cancer risk. This warning is often in the form of a label on the product or its packaging.

The law defines “no significant risk” as a level of exposure that would cause no more than 1 extra case of cancer in 100,000 people over a 70-year lifetime. So a compound doesn’t have to be labeled if a person exposed to the substance at the expected level for 70 years is estimated to have less than a 1 in 100,000 chance of getting cancer due to that exposure. The law also has similar strict cutoff levels for birth defects and reproductive harm.

Businesses decide whether to put warning labels on their products based on their knowledge of the types of chemicals in them.

What the labels say and don’t say

For any product made after August 2018, the Prop 65 labels typically say something like this:

WARNING: This product can expose you to [name of chemical], which is known to the State of California to cause cancer. For more information, go towww.P65Warnings.ca.gov.

(Video) Doctor explains what it means when an item has a Proposition 65 warning

Businesses are not required to use this exact wording (as long as it still provides a “clear and reasonable warning”), so it can vary somewhat between labels.

Prior to August 2018, businesses didn’t have to specify which chemical(s) of concern were in their products, so any products made before this date might not list any specific chemicals. As of August 2018, the label should name at least one chemical of concern. The label doesn’t have to list all of them, although the business might choose to do so.

Some types of products are required to have specific labels as a result of court orders after lawsuits. For example, the required labels on electrical wires such as computer cables, power cords, and holiday lights sold in California are slightly different. (This is discussed below.)

The Proposition 65 warning labels might cause some confusion for people who see them, for a few reasons:

  • The label only tells you that a product has a chemical (or chemicals) in it that might cause cancer (or affect reproduction). The label isn’t required to list every chemical of concern (if there’s more than one). And before August of 2018, the labels didn’t need to list any chemicals by name.
  • The label doesn’t have to say anything about how much of the chemical(s) the product contains, or how you might be exposed to it. These factors can be very important when determining how much risk it might pose.

How to get more information about what’s in the product

While businesses are required to put warning labels on products, they’re not required to list all of the chemicals that might cause problems, nor are they required to provide the OEHHA with any information about the products. This means the OEHHA cannot offer information to help consumers figure out what the potential risk is with a specific product or how to avoid it.

(Video) Everything Wrong with Cancer Warning Labels - Consumer Choice Series

If you find a warning label on a product and want more information:

  • Find the name of the manufacturer by checking the package and any written information that comes with the product. The contact information is often on or in the package as well, but if it isn’t, you can look it up online by searching the manufacturer’s name.
  • Contact the manufacturer to find out what potentially hazardous substance(s) the product contains. You might also want to ask what part of the product it’s in.
  • Ask the manufacturer how a person might be exposed to the chemical(s) of concern from this product. Some common exposure routes include inhalation, contact with food, transfer to food or drink from unwashed hands, or a baby or child putting the product in their mouth. Different routes are important for different substances.
  • Find out what the manufacturer knows about the hazards of the chemical(s) in the product. Do the risks include cancer, reproductive harm, or both?
  • Ask the manufacturer if there are ways to reduce any risk of exposure to the hazardous substance while using the product.

Once you know which chemical(s) the product contains, you can usually find more information about it from other sources. For example, the OEHHA has fact sheets on many common chemicals on its website at https://www.p65warnings.ca.gov/fact-sheets. Sometimes you can find information on specific products on the OEHHA website as well.

Unlabeled products

Products that are sold outside of California are not required to have the warning label even if they contain substances that might cause cancer. Some companies that sell products all over the US only label those sent to California, even though all their products contain the same compounds.

Labels on lead-containing wire

The required labels on electrical wires such as computer cables, power cords, and holiday lights sold in California are slightly different from the labels on other products, and typically say something like this:

WARNING:Handling the cord on this product will expose you to lead, a chemical known to the State of California to cause [cancer, and] birth defects or other reproductive harm.Wash hands after handling.

(Video) California Prop 65 Cancer & Reproductive Harm Warning Labels

The word “cancer” (in brackets above) is optional, at the judgment of the manufacturer. Many of them use it, possibly to avoid liability.

Lawsuits filed in 2000 charged that electrical manufacturers were selling covered electrical wires and cable products in California without labels, despite the fact that the wires and cables had lead in their coverings. (Lead is a substance on the California list.) As part of the lawsuit settlement, manufacturers were directed to start putting warning labels on electrical cords as of late 2003. People who buy new electrical products are often concerned when they see these warning labels, but cords have contained lead for many years. Only the labels are new.

Cords that are not often plugged and unplugged do not have to be labeled. Cords with lead inside their covering, and cords that are in places that make them inaccessible to consumers during ordinary use do not have to be labeled.

More about cancer warning labels that mention California

For more information and frequently asked questions about Proposition 65, go to:https://www.p65warnings.ca.gov.

Proposition 65 is reviewed in plain language at:https://oehha.ca.gov/proposition-65/general-info/proposition-65-plain-language.

(Video) WARNING ⚠️ California Proposition 65 Cancer Warning

For a fully updated list of all the chemicals that are known to the State of California to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity, go to:https://www.p65warnings.ca.gov/chemicals.

Fact sheets for some of the chemicals on the list are available at: https://www.p65warnings.ca.gov/fact-sheets.

FAQs

Do I need to worry about Prop 65 warning? ›

Should I worry about Prop 65? Probably not. The Prop 65 label is like a noisy alarm that rings equally loudly about smaller amounts of low-risk substances and huge amounts of potentially harmful chemicals. The labels don't say how much of the chemical is present, or how much it would really take to make a person sick.

What does it mean if a product has a Prop 65 warning? ›

Proposition 65 requires businesses to provide warnings to Californians about significant exposures to chemicals that cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm. These chemicals can be in the products that Californians purchase, in their homes or workplaces, or that are released into the environment.

Why do my sunglasses say Warning cancer? ›

Why Do Glasses Have a Prop 65 Warning? Glasses and sunglasses may display the Prop 65 warning because of the Bisphenol-A (BpA) found in polycarbonate lenses. Bisphenol-A (BpA) is a starting material in the manufacture of polycarbonate, so there are trace amounts of BpA found in those lenses.

Should I not buy furniture with Prop 65 warning? ›

A furniture product with a Proposition 65 warning suggests the product can expose you to levels of a listed chemical or chemicals that pose greater health risks than furniture that causes exposures to lower levels of listed chemicals.

Why does my tea have a Prop 65 warning? ›

Proposition 65 is a California law that requires businesses to include a warning to California customers regarding any products that contain measurable amounts of any one of over eight-hundred chemicals, many of which are naturally occurring.

Is Prop 65 only in California? ›

Are out-of-state manufacturers of retail products exempt from Proposition 65? No. The requirement to provide a consumer warning applies regardless of whether a business is located in California or out-of-state, as long as its products cause exposures to individuals in California.

What foods contain acrylamide? ›

The major food sources of acrylamide are French fries and potato chips; crackers, bread, and cookies; breakfast cereals; canned black olives; prune juice; and coffee. Acrylamide levels in food vary widely depending on the manufacturer, the cooking time, and the method and temperature of the cooking process (5, 6).

Do all appliances have Prop 65 warning? ›

Additionally, some internal components of household appliances such as the motor or power cord may contain chemicals on the Prop 65 list and therefore require a Prop 65 warning. In accordance with Prop 65, Everything Kitchens displays the Prop 65 warning when advised by the manufacturer that a warning must be present.

What products are affected by Prop 65? ›

Prop 65 affects all consumer products sold or distributed in California, including textiles, footwear, hard goods, DIY products, toys, juvenile products, stationery, electrical/electronic items and more. Prop 65 is a consumer “right-to-know law”.

Do all air conditioners have cancer warnings? ›

Fact Check: No link between your car's AC and cancer.

Are plastic eyeglass frames toxic? ›

BPA can be found in polycarbonate plastics, and epoxy resins used to make certain model eyewear frames and is widely used in lenses. Research has shown that exposure to high levels of BPA is a concern because of possible health effects on the brain, prostate gland of fetuses, children and infants.

What is the chemical in sunglasses that causes cancer? ›

Bisphenol A (BPA) was recently added to the Prop 65 list as a chemical known to cause reproductive toxicity. BPA may be found, for example, in polycarbonate lenses and spectacle frames.

How long does formaldehyde stay in furniture? ›

The data suggests it takes about two years for formaldehyde in newly built or remodeled homes to off-gas down to levels of the average home. However, higher humidity and temperatures can make VOCs off-gas faster.

How do you remove formaldehyde from furniture? ›

  1. The new furniture smell is most likely a collection of different volatile organic compounds, including formaldehyde. ...
  2. Heat, air, and time are the best ways to bring down that initial off-gassing odor. ...
  3. You can use distilled white vinegar to remove toxic chemicals from the air.
3 May 2022

Is Metal furniture toxic? ›

Metal Furniture

Metal is one of the safest materials. Metal may need to be washed down in order to remove factory oils, but otherwise most finishes don't offgas. Powder-coated metal is the safest painted look finish.

Why does my backpack have a p65 warning? ›

The backpack distribution was delayed "out of an abundance of caution" due to the discovery of a Proposition 65 warning label, CMS said Monday. The label is on items that may contain cancer-causing chemicals.

What does reproductive harm mean? ›

Reproductive Harm. Reproductive Harm occurs when a chemical interferes with the ability to produce normal, healthy offspring. This includes effects on the female and male reproductive systems, and effects on the developing embryo, fetus, or child, resulting from exposure during pregnancy.

Does Prop 65 apply to pet food? ›

California Proposition 65 sets limits to hazardous substances that may cause cancer or reproductive harm in all consumer products sold in California, including pet toys, accessories, and other related pet products.

Does Prop 65 only apply to consumer products? ›

Proposition 65 applies to environmental exposures as well as consumer product exposures, but for this FAQ we only focus on consumer products.

How many Prop 65 chemicals are there? ›

As a result of lawsuits, the list also contains substances known only to cause cancer in animals. This list is not exhaustive, as the complete list contains over 900 chemicals.

When did Prop 65 go into effect? ›

In 1986, California voters approved Proposition 65, an initiative to address their growing concerns about exposure to toxic chemicals. That initiative is officially known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986.

How do I remove acrylamide from my body? ›

Drinking more water, a lot more water for some of us, will probably be the most important thing you can do to get rid of Acrylamide. However, make sure you are drinking pure water; otherwise you may inadvertently increase your exposure. Taking herbs to improve kidney and liver detoxification may be helpful.

Does peanut butter contain acrylamide? ›

As most pea nut butters are made from roasted peanuts, also peanut butter tends to be high in acrylamide. If you are looking for a healthy alternative to roasted nuts, simply go for their raw counterparts. In addition to being virtually free of acrylamide, raw un-salted nuts won't damage your heart with excess salt.

Does oatmeal contain acrylamide? ›

Oats have the second highest acrylamide forming potential of rye, wheat, barley and oats. Several studies have found high levels of acrylamide in oat products that exceed the benchmark limits within the EU.

Why do Kitchenaid mixers have Prop 65 warning? ›

Whirlpool has provided the warning because a chemical covered by the California Proposition 65 may be present and not all listed chemicals provide exposure limit requirements. Therefore, Whirlpool has elected to provide the warning when a listed chemical is present.

Are electric ovens safe? ›

According to a 2020 report by the NFPA, households with electric stoves reported fires at a rate 2.6 times higher than those with gas stoves. Equally staggering, the death rate of electric-run households was 3.4 times higher than those with gas appliances — and the injury rate was nearly five times greater.

Why does Ninja Blender have Prop 65 warning? ›

Andrea: The warning was put on all blender instruction books because of US California Proposition 65 which limits the amount of Lead in a product to 200 ppm. The power cord used on the product is made from PVC which does use a small amount of lead as a stabilizer.

Do all potato chips have acrylamide? ›

Acrylamide can form naturally from chemical reactions in certain types of starchy foods, after cooking at high temperatures. Some foods with higher levels of acrylamide include French fries, potato chips, foods made from grains (such as breakfast cereals, cookies, and toast), and coffee.

Why are some foods not sold in California? ›

Certain foods contain chemicals that are on the Proposition 65 list because they can cause cancer and/or birth defects or other reproductive harm.

Does polyester have a Prop 65 warning? ›

No Poly products require a Proposition 65 warning label due to any user exposure to a Proposition 65 chemical above the safe harbor level.

Why does Kitchenaid mixer have cancer warning? ›

Prop 65 Warning for all other identified products: "This product contains lead, a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer, birth defects, and other reproductive harm. Wash hands after handling."

Do car interiors emit benzene? ›

Car interiors contain toxic levels of cancer-causing benzene emitted by dashboards, car seats, and air fresheners, and recommends opening windows to expel trapped benzene gas before turning on the car air conditioner. A car parked indoors with windows closed will only contain 400-800 mg of Benzene.

Does car AC use benzene? ›

We are urged to ventilate a car for a few minutes before turning on the AC to get rid of any “toxic” benzene that has outgassed from the car's interior. Like with most such emails, there is a kernel of truth to the scare, but it is greatly exaggerated.

Are plastic or metal frames better? ›

Metal frames are better than plastic variants when it comes to fit. The shapes of metal frames are usually more in place and are less likely to need readjustment now and then, unlike plastic frames. Glasses with metal frames come with nose pads to help you keep them in place.

Are there BPA free sunglasses? ›

Sydney Eco-Pact Recycled Sunglasses

These lightweight black sunglasses are made from recycled water bottles! The PET1 plastic is BPA-free, and more flexible than our polycarbonate sunglasses.

What is the difference between acetate and plastic eyeglass frames? ›

Acetate is stronger, flexible, and more durable than regular plastic frames, which is why we use them for eyeglasses frames. They are more resistant to pressure placed upon the frames and can bend further before breaking. Acetate is a higher quality plastic than injected molded frames.

Is it safe to wear BpA sunglasses? ›

Is It Safe To Wear Sunglasses With BPA? You have nothing to worry about wearing sunglasses with BPA. First of all, you should note that polycarbonate lenses are inside the frame of the eyewear. It means that you will have no direct virtual contact with your face.

Can sunglasses damage eyes? ›

Can wearing sunglasses damage your eyes? Sunglasses are bad for your eyes if they are used the wrong way or do not block UV. Eyes adapt to ambient light, and pupils dilate when light is dim or you're wearing dark sunglasses. That creates a bigger area for UV to access the eye.

Do Ray Bans have nickel? ›

What are the Metal Frames Made of? Alloy Metal which can include nickel, however, the coating and polishing process which our metal frames go through make the frames hypo-allergenic and safe for all to wear.

Do most couches have formaldehyde? ›

Since formaldehyde in furniture is fairly common in upholstery fabrics, especially synthetics, airing out that new sofa before using it is a good way to get a lot of the chemical smells out of the material before placing the furniture in its designated room.

What household items release formaldehyde? ›

Formaldehyde in Your Home
  • Pressed-wood products (plywood, particle board, paneling)
  • Foam insulation.
  • Wallpaper and paints.
  • Some synthetic fabrics (example: permanent press)
  • Some cosmetics and personal products.
13 Mar 2019

Is Ikea furniture formaldehyde free? ›

As an international retailer, IKEA has a big responsibility. The ambition is always that all products must be safe and IKEA constantly works to improve the material and the production methods used. Formaldehyde is forbidden in all paint and lacquers used for IKEA products.

Should I not buy furniture with Prop 65 warning? ›

A furniture product with a Proposition 65 warning suggests the product can expose you to levels of a listed chemical or chemicals that pose greater health risks than furniture that causes exposures to lower levels of listed chemicals.

Does baking soda absorb formaldehyde? ›

Formaldehyde in clothing also makes it more flammable, and can cause contact dermatitis. Washing will remove the chemical treatment. Baking soda adsorbs (yes, that's spelled right, it is a chemical process, no a physical one) some of it, but does not neutralize it.

Will an air purifier remove formaldehyde? ›

High-quality air purifiers are an excellent way to remove VOCs like formaldehyde from your indoor air.

Are Ashley Furniture couches non-toxic? ›

Ashley Furniture is not non-toxic. Although the large furniture brand did phase out toxic flame retardants (which is definitely a win!), it still uses other potentially harmful materials such as engineered wood, harsh glues and finishes, and PFAS-containing treatments.

Do all leather couches have formaldehyde? ›

Formaldehyde is found in most leather at various concentrations due to its use in the synthesis of retaining agents and process chemical preservatives.

Can a new couch make you sick? ›

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Furniture off-gassing can release toxic chemicals into the air we breathe. Sometimes you may notice a strong odor coming from a new furniture set, other times, there is no smell. For some people, headaches, asthma and even more serious diseases like cancer may follow.

Do all appliances have Prop 65 warning? ›

Additionally, some internal components of household appliances such as the motor or power cord may contain chemicals on the Prop 65 list and therefore require a Prop 65 warning. In accordance with Prop 65, Everything Kitchens displays the Prop 65 warning when advised by the manufacturer that a warning must be present.

When did Prop 65 go into effect? ›

Proposition 65 (formally titled The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, and also referred to as Prop 65) is a California law passed by direct voter initiative in 1986 by a 63%–37% vote.

What does reproductive harm mean? ›

Reproductive Harm. Reproductive Harm occurs when a chemical interferes with the ability to produce normal, healthy offspring. This includes effects on the female and male reproductive systems, and effects on the developing embryo, fetus, or child, resulting from exposure during pregnancy.

What foods contain acrylamide? ›

The major food sources of acrylamide are French fries and potato chips; crackers, bread, and cookies; breakfast cereals; canned black olives; prune juice; and coffee. Acrylamide levels in food vary widely depending on the manufacturer, the cooking time, and the method and temperature of the cooking process (5, 6).

Why does my dishwasher have a p65 warning? ›

Whirlpool has provided the warning because a chemical covered by the California Proposition 65 may be present and not all listed chemicals provide exposure limit requirements. Therefore, Whirlpool has elected to provide the warning when a listed chemical is present.

Why do Kitchenaid mixers have Prop 65 warning? ›

Whirlpool has provided the warning because a chemical covered by the California Proposition 65 may be present and not all listed chemicals provide exposure limit requirements. Therefore, Whirlpool has elected to provide the warning when a listed chemical is present.

Why do portable air conditioners have Prop 65 warning? ›

It means, use of the air conditioner poses a risk of cancer due to the lead and lead components per the unit.

What chemicals are included in Prop 65? ›

These chemicals 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.

What products are affected by Prop 65? ›

Prop 65 affects all consumer products sold or distributed in California, including textiles, footwear, hard goods, DIY products, toys, juvenile products, stationery, electrical/electronic items and more. Prop 65 is a consumer “right-to-know law”.

What products does Prop 65 apply to? ›

Products
  • Alcoholic Beverages.
  • Cannabis and THC Products.
  • Diesel Engine Exhaust.
  • Food.
  • Furniture Products.
  • Passenger and Off-Highway Motor Vehicles.
  • Petroleum Products.
  • Recreational Vessels.

What is Prop 65 labeling requirements? ›

Proposition 65, otherwise known as the Safe Drinking and Toxic Enforcement Act, mandates that businesses with 10 or more employees must provide a “clear and responsible” warning label for all products that Californians purchase, in their homes or workplaces, or that are released into the environment.

What harms the reproductive system? ›

Pesticides, endocrine disruptors, and other chemicals

Many of the chemicals used world-wide in today's society, including pesticides and endocrine disruptors, among others, may have various damaging effects on the reproductive health of both men and women.

What causes reproductive harm? ›

Chemicals such as pesticides. Smoking. Legal and illegal drugs. Metals such as lead and mercury.

How do I remove acrylamide from my body? ›

Drinking more water, a lot more water for some of us, will probably be the most important thing you can do to get rid of Acrylamide. However, make sure you are drinking pure water; otherwise you may inadvertently increase your exposure. Taking herbs to improve kidney and liver detoxification may be helpful.

Does peanut butter contain acrylamide? ›

As most pea nut butters are made from roasted peanuts, also peanut butter tends to be high in acrylamide. If you are looking for a healthy alternative to roasted nuts, simply go for their raw counterparts. In addition to being virtually free of acrylamide, raw un-salted nuts won't damage your heart with excess salt.

Does oatmeal contain acrylamide? ›

Oats have the second highest acrylamide forming potential of rye, wheat, barley and oats. Several studies have found high levels of acrylamide in oat products that exceed the benchmark limits within the EU.

Videos

1. What you should know about the new California Prop 65 warning label
(Source Intelligence)
2. Should I Worry About the California Prop 65 Warnings? What Does California Prop 65 Warning Mean? ⚠️
(BestPriceNutrition.com)
3. You've seen the warnings. But does Prop 65 actually keep you safe?
(Los Angeles Times)
4. Prop. 65: What are the risks
(23 ABC News | KERO)
5. Warning: What is proposition 65 cancer warning?
(VAL-U-PRO CONSULTING GROUP, LLC - SRIKANTH KIDAMBI)
6. Warning Labels Under Proposition 65
(Kaass Law)

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