The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act (Proposition 65) is an important piece of legislation that was passed in California in 1986. It requires businesses to provide warnings for products containing chemicals known to cause cancer, congenital disabilities or other reproductive harm, even if those chemicals are only present in trace amounts. For many businesses selling products in California, Proposition 65 is a legal requirement with which they must comply. But what is it exactly?
What is Proposition 65?
There are over 900 chemicals on the Proposition 65 list, which is updated annually. The list includes naturally occurring and manufactured chemicals. Chemicals can be added to the list if they are determined to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity. Prop 65 warnings can be found on a variety of products including the following:
- dietary supplements
- tobacco products
- everyday household items
The warnings are intended to help Californians make informed decisions about their exposure to these chemicals. Proposition 65 environmental law does not ban the use of any chemical outright; rather, it requires businesses with ten or more employees to provide a reasonable and clear warning before exposing individuals to listed chemicals above specified levels.
Who is affected by Proposition 65?
Proposition 65 affects anyone who owns or operates a business in California that produces, manufactures, ships or otherwise handles any products that contain chemicals listed under Proposition 65. This includes companies of all sizes, from large corporations to sole proprietorships.
In addition, Proposition 65 affects out-of-state businesses that do any of the following:
- Sell products in California that contain chemicals listed
- Have employees working in California who are exposed to listed chemicals
- Discharge chemicals listed into California’s waterways
What are the penalties for violating Proposition 65?
Penalties for violating Proposition 65 can be either civil or criminal. Civil penalties are assessed by the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA). They can be up to $2,500 per day for each violation. The California Attorney General’s Office levies criminal penalties. They can be up to $25,000 per day for each violation, plus imprisonment.