Proposition 65 is a strict California environmental protection law that offers consumers the right to make an informed decision about the products they consume. Proposition 65 also protects California drinking water from contamination.
Proposition 65, also known by its official title, The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, is a California environmental law that protects residents from harmful chemical exposure. Proposition 65 is in place to keep dangerous chemicals and toxins out of consumer products and to promote safe and clean drinking water to California residents; Proposition 65 achieves its objective by requiring companies to place warning labels on all items manufactured with materials that are known to cause cancer or birth defects. The warning label reads as follows:
WARNING: This product contains chemicals that are known to the State of California to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm.
Proposition 65 achieves its safe drinking water objective by prohibiting companies from knowingly releasing substances into the environment, either directly into water sources or on land that may lead to water sources becoming contaminated. An official list of prohibited substances is available for public monitoring and Proposition 65 further requires that this list be updated at least once every year. The list is sometimes updated more frequently because substances may be added or removed from it due to updated research and information that becomes available throughout the year.
Lead is a known cause of serious birth defects in fetuses and illness in young children, and it is strictly monitored as a result of Proposition 65. The birth defects from lead include, but are not limited to, severe brain damage, behavioral and learning disabilities, retardation, delayed growth, problems with hearing, and headaches. Lead can also cause serious nervous system damage and even cancer in adults. Because lead poisoning can be difficult to diagnose, it is also difficult to treat before it has taken its toll on the human body. It should be noted that any fetus, young child, or adult is susceptible to lead poisoning if exposed to it in high amounts. One reason why Proposition 65 passed with such tremendous support by California voters is because it so diligently sought to limit consumer exposure to lead in products.
In early December of 2008, leading toy manufacturers like Mattel and Fisher Price agreed to a settlement with the State of California that further protects children from lead poisoning in toys. Admitting no wrongdoing in the settlement, the companies agreed to stop the sales of any toys that they knew contained lead. Mattel recalled over 21 million of its China-manufactured toys due to suspicions that lead paint had been used on the toys. After toy manufacturers went through several recalls, California officials initiated an intense investigation under the authority of Proposition 65 that led to a lawsuit involving 17 different toy manufacturers and retail chains. Mattel, Fisher Price, and 7 others decided to settle the lawsuit during the peak holiday toy sales season and prior to the tougher federal standards scheduled to begin in February of 2009.
Proposition 65 gives California residents a measure of safety in knowing when harmful chemicals are present in consumer products and it can aid them in making informed decisions about whether or not to use those products. Proposition 65 also offers Californians greater confidence in their drinking water because it is protected by a very strict environmental law.
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