SEMA eNews Vol. 19, No. 39, September 29, 2016

California Finalizes New Prop. 65 Labeling Rules for Consumer Products

By SEMA Washington, D.C., Staff

The California Office of Environmental Health and Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has finalized new rules governing the acceptable content of warning labels used on consumer products under Proposition 65 (“Prop. 65”). Prop. 65 was enacted in 1986 to enable Californians to be aware of chemicals in consumer products known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm. To achieve this goal, Prop. 65 allows consumers to sue companies that sell products in California that include certain chemicals without carrying an acceptable warning. If a business labels its products with a warning that satisfies the regulations, the business is eligible for a safe harbor from such lawsuits. 

The new regulations become effective August 30, 2018, allowing businesses a two-year period to update their warnings to meet the new requirements. Businesses can transition to the new warnings anytime during the two-year transition time. Products manufactured prior to August 30, 2018, can comply with the old regulations, even if sold after that date, but all products manufactured after August 30, 2018, must carry the new warning language.

Under the new regulations, warnings:

  • Must be given at or before the point of purchase (required to be shown on website or catalog if sold via those channels).
  • Must contain a graphic depiction of a yellow triangle containing an exclamation point (if the warning is printed on packaging that does not use the color yellow, the graphic can be in black and white).
  • Must include the website address “www.P65Warnings.ca.gov.”
  • Must specify at least one chemical for which a warning is being provided if it is a label included anywhere other than on the product or its exterior packaging.
  • May use a truncated format that does not reference the specific chemical at issue if it is a label included on the product or its exterior packaging. 

Examples of acceptable warning labels under the new regulations:  

  • WARNING: This product can expose you to chemicals including [name of one or more chemicals], which is [are] known to the State of California to cause cancer. For more information go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov.
  • WARNING: This product can expose you to chemicals including [name of one or more chemicals], which is [are] known to the State of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm. For more information go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov.
  • WARNING: This product can expose you to chemicals including [name of 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 go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov.

For more information, contact Ashley Ailsworth at ashleya@sema.org.

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