New Digital Matters - A Look At Prop 65 Through A Manufacturer’s Eyes

By Keith Roberts

Marketing Manager, Distinctive Industries

August 30th was the deadline for compliance with California’s revised Proposition 65 law. Many retailers are still struggling to categorize and label products on the web, catalogs and retail packaging. So what does this mean for a manufacturer in our industry and what actions should be taken to help our retailers remain Prop 65 compliant?

Prop 65 was a ballot initiative enacted by the voters in 1986 but recent revisions made by the California Legislature are now coming to the forefront in our industry and catching many off guard.  SEMA and ARMO have sought to educate members by sharing information about the updated law at www.sema.org/prop65. The law requires warning labels on products made or sold in California that contain chemicals listed as known to cause cancer, birth defects or reproductive harm. 

There are over 900 chemicals currently on the Prop 65 list.  There are also hefty fines for noncompliance, up to $2,500 per day per violation if the product is not labeled correctly.  See graphic below for acceptable warning labels. Prop 65 is administered by California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA). However, enforcement is pursued by private law firms acting as bounty hunters. 

Prop 65 has stirred a lot of buzz.  The warning requirement applies to any business in the chain of distribution, including manufacturers, distributors and retailers, along with out-of-state companies selling product in California. Manufacturers have the primary responsibility for providing Prop 65 warnings, but distributors and retailers may be held liable for unlabeled products (ex: removing a label or failing to affix labels provided by the manufacturer). 

At the moment, the most recent targets affecting the auto parts industry include lead and lead in brass parts, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC), BPA in hard plastics, and phthalates in soft plastics (BBP, DBP, DIDP, DINP, DnHP and DEHP). Phthalates are used in a variety of products from pipes to plastic wraps, artificial leather, electrical wire insulation and adhesives. These substances are frequently found in plastisol, vinyl hand tool grips, vinyl seat and steering wheel covers, gaskets, automotive hoses and other products. 

Some manufacturers are taking the time to identify any chemicals used in their manufacturing processes that are affected by Prop 65 and pass this information along to their customers and/or distributors. While others are simply supplying truncated Prop 65 labels which still leaves a considerable amount of legwork for anyone selling their products. Working at a large manufacturer, distributing our Prop 65 information with the offending chemicals identified on the label has become top priority, and we distribute this info through our website, price lists and data load sheets. Taking this approach helps ease the burden felt on the retail side. After all, who knows the product better than the manufacturer.

We urge you to devote time to learning more about Prop 65 and its labeling requirements. Visit www.SEMA.org/prop65 and www.P65warnings.ca.gov.

Check out other Digital Matters articles at www.sema.org/digitialmatters