Everything to Know: Prop 65


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. By requiring that this information be provided, Proposition 65 enables Californians to make informed decisions about their exposures to these chemicals.

Proposition 65 also prohibits California businesses from knowingly discharging significant amounts of listed chemicals into sources of drinking water.

Proposition 65 requires California to publish a list of chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm. This list, which must be updated at least once a year, has grown to include approximately 900 chemicals.

The list contains a wide range of naturally occurring and synthetic chemicals that 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.

Businesses are required to provide a "clear and reasonable" warning before knowingly and intentionally exposing anyone to a listed chemical, unless the business can show that the anticipated exposure level will not pose a significant risk of cancer or is significantly below levels observed to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm.

This warning can be given in several ways, such as by labeling a consumer product, posting signs at the workplace, distributing notices at a rental housing complex, or publishing notices in a newspaper. The requirement to provide warnings takes effect one year after a chemical is added to the list.

Proposition 65 also prohibits companies that do business within California from knowingly discharging listed chemicals into sources of drinking water. Once a chemical is listed, businesses have 20 months to comply with the discharge prohibition.

Joseph Sommer