Law & Order

SEMA-Opposed Changes to California's Prop 65 Short Form Warnings Abandoned for Now

By SEMA Washington, D.C., Staff

California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) did not complete the regulatory process for its proposed amendments to the Proposition 65 short-form warning within the allotted time and has allowed the rulemaking to lapse.

OEHHA has stated it intends to start the regulatory process again with a new proposal to update the short-form warning label and will consider the comments on the previous proposal into this process. SEMA submitted comments opposing the initial proposal and the subsequent modifications, as the new regulations would have mandated that at least one chemical associated with cancer and/or one chemical known to be a carcinogen be identified on the short form.

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 does not stop businesses from selling their products regardless of what chemicals they contain. It simply requires consumer warning labels under certain circumstances. The current short-form warning does not identify a specific chemical(s) while the long-form warning requires identification of a specific chemical(s).

The business community worked with OEHHA to develop the current 2018 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.

OEHHA had expressed concerns about an overuse of the short-form warning. The revisions OEHHA was pursuing would have required companies to update product labels, websites, and catalogs and instruct others downstream in the product chain about their Prop 65 obligations.

OEHHA’s notice can be found here.

Additional information on Prop 65 can be found here.

For more information, contact Caroline Fletcher at