Proposition 65 and How it Affects YOU [Infographic]

You may have come across Proposition 65 after seeing a strange warning on an item you purchased, or read about it somewhere and wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

Whether you are well-read in the topic of California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 or haven’t had the time to read through all the legal documents, here is a boiled down version of what you need to know about Prop 65 and how it affects you and the products you buy.

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As seen in the most recent Proposition 65 chemical list, the chemicals published in accordance with Proposition 65 may be synthetic or naturally occurring. This FAQ about Prop 65 in dentistry explains,

“Many of [the chemicals] are ingredients of common household products. Some chemicals may be additives in pesticides, foods, or drugs such as alcoholic beverages and aspirin. Others may be industrial chemicals, dyes, or solvents used in dry cleaning, manufacturing or construction. Still others may be byproducts of certain combustion processes, such as motor vehicle exhaust, tobacco smoke, and burning natural gas.”

Once these chemicals are published, is it up to manufacturers to know if any of their products expose consumers to the chemicals and, if they do, to issue a warning. If a product uses a listed chemical but the company that produces it does not believe it poses a risk to consumers, it is up to the business to provide proof that a warning does not need to be issued.

The list of chemicals is updated at least once a year and some chemicals added to the list were later “delisted.”

Saccharin for example, was delisted when the National Toxicology program re-categorized saccharin, concluding that there was not enough evidence to say whether saccharin is carcinogenic to humans. In other words, they were not sure whether saccharin caused cancer in humans, and so it was taken off the list of “Chemicals Known to Cause Cancer or Reproductive Toxicity.”

BPA was also delisted shortly after it was added. This was because the American Chemistry Counsel filed a motion to remove it from the list. They believed, and the courts agreed, that there was not enough proof that BPA causes adverse developmental or reproductive effects in humans.

The report which prompted the addition of BPA to the Prop 65 list was the result of an experiment done on animals. In this experiment, the animals were subjected to levels far higher than the daily intake of BPA in children, adults, or workers. After 8 days on the list, BPA was removed.

You may (and probably do) still have many questions about Proposition 65 and how it works. Below are several resources, many provided by the OEHHA themselves (the organization who governs the act), that will help you become a Prop 65 Guru.

Most recent Prop 65 Chemical list (As of Jan 2014)

Prop 65 in plain language

Prop 65 FAQ

Searchable Prop 65 list (though a little out of date)

How does your company handle Proposition 65? Have you ever bought a product with a Prop 65 warning label?

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Julie Foster

Julie enjoys almost any creative outlet and isn't afraid to show off her geeky side. She can't help but love puns and witty banter, and she appreciates a well-crafted advertisement. She is a super fan of the Georgia Rae Family Band. Currently, Julie is looking for new ways to improve her Japanese.


  1. Wash

    Hooray for infographics!

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