Changes to the Prop 65 Warnings are Due in August- Does it Apply to You?

Author: Wendy Hillger

Proposition 65 requires the State of California to maintain a list of chemicals that can cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm.   These warnings apply to landlords, business owners, bars/restaurants, and other retailers.  Businesses with 10 or more employees that expose individuals to listed chemicals through their products or operations generally must provide warnings.  At present, approximately 900 chemicals are required to be disclosed, such as additives or ingredients in pesticides, common household products, food, drugs, dyes, or solvents. Additionally, listed chemicals may also be used in manufacturing and construction, or they may be byproducts of chemical processes, such as motor vehicle exhaust.  These chemicals can be in the products that Californians purchase, in their homes or workplaces, or that are released into the environment.

If this covers you, warnings must specify the chemical or chemicals at issue, the source of the chemical or chemicals, and the harm (i.e., carcinogenic, reproductive toxicity, or both).   Additionally:

  • Warning signs must be in at least 72-point type.
  • The warning must be in English and any other language used in other signs in the area.
  • The warning must include the word “WARNING” in all caps and bold print
  • The warning must include a reference to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov.
  • The warning must contain a black exclamation point in a yellow equilateral triangle with a bold black outline, unless the sign, label or shelf tag for the product is not printed using yellow, in which case the symbol may be printed in black and white.
  • The warning symbol must be to the left of the text of the warning and must be at least as tall as the word “WARNING.”

These new warnings must be in place by August 30, 2018.  Penalties for violating Proposition 65 by failing to provide warnings can be as high as $2,500 per violation per day.   Additionally, successful plaintiffs can recover their attorney’s fees and costs.

For a list of the chemicals and levels to which the warning requirement applies visit https://oehha.ca.gov/proposition-65/chemicals

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