Law & Order

SEMA Again Objects to Proposed Changes to California's Prop 65 Short-Form Warnings

By SEMA Washington, D.C., Staff

California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) published a second modification to its proposed amendments to the Proposition 65 short-form warning regulations first issued in January 2021 and revised in December 2021.

Although the amendments include some welcomed changes, SEMA and many other companies and organizations continue to oppose the overall proposal since it would require companies to revise their short-form labels, catalogs and websites. Among other considerations, the new regulations would mandate that at least one chemical associated with cancer and/or one chemical known to be a carcinogen be identified on the short form.

The current short-form warning does not identify a specific chemical(s) while the long-form warning requires identification of a specific chemical(s):

  • Short-Form: WARNING: Cancer and Reproductive Harm—
  • Long-Form:  WARNING: This product can expose you to chemicals, including [name one or more chemicals], which is (are) known to the State of California to cause cancer or birth defects or other reproductive harm. For more information, visit
Prop 65 Warning

The initial OEHHA proposal in January 2021 was met with overwhelming objections from SEMA and other organizations, as it would have limited the availability for companies to put the short-form warning on their products. OEHHA issued a modified proposal in December 2021, and the second modification on April 5, 2022. Of note, the modifications removed label-size and packaging-shape limitations when using short-form warning, the proposed font type size requirement was removed, and the date for businesses to comply with the regulation was extended to two years instead of one. While these are positive changes, SEMA continues to oppose the overall measure since companies would still be required to revise their existing short-form labels and update catalogs and websites to identify at least one chemical associated with cancer or reproductive harm.

The business community worked with the agency for several years to develop the original Prop 65 regulations that took full effect in September 2018. Companies subsequently invested significant resources in updating product labels, websites and catalogs, and instructing others in the product chain about their obligations. OEHHA’s proposed short-form warning changes would negate those efforts for many companies.

Prop 65 was a ballot initiative enacted by California voters in 1986. It requires warning labels on products containing chemicals listed as known to cause cancer, birth defects or reproductive harm. There are more than 1,100 chemicals currently on the list. Prop 65 doesn’t stop anyone from selling their products regardless of what chemicals they contain; it is simply a law that requires consumer warning labels under certain circumstances.  

The current 2018 regulation provides the short-form warning option as an acceptable alternative to the revised requirements for consumer product exposure warnings. Many companies use this option since the warning fits more easily on product packaging and in advertising materials and the company does not have to identify at least one chemical listed under Prop 65 that triggers the warning. In proposing the change, OEHHA expressed concerns about an overuse of the short-form warning label. OEHHA will now review public comments and decide whether it will implement the proposed short form changes.

SEMA’s comments can be found here.

Additional information on Prop 65 can be found here.

For more information, contact Caroline Fletcher at