Does California's Prop 65 Need A Replacement?
- Thursday, 11 October 2012
California voters approved a ground-breaking ballot initiative in 1986, called Proposition 65. Prop 65, as it is commonly referred to, requires the state to publish a list of chemicals known to cause cancer or birth defects. The list has grown to about 800 chemicals since it was first published in 1987.
Specifically, Prop 65 requires businesses to notify California residents about significant amounts of chemicals in the products they manufacture. Businesses are required to provide a "clear and reasonable" warning, either a label for a product, signs at the workplace, distributing notices at a rental housing complex, or publishing notices in a newspaper. In addition, businesses are prohibited from discharging significant amounts of the listed chemicals into drinking water sources.
Businesses have twelve months to comply once a chemical is listed, and twenty months to comply with discharges into drinking water. Businesses with less than ten employees and government agencies are exempt from Prop 65's warning requirements and prohibition on discharges into drinking water sources.
It sounds like a great law, doesn't it? For the most part, it truly is a great law. As the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), which administers the law, website states: "By providing this information, Proposition 65 enables Californians to make informed decisions about protecting themselves from exposure to these chemicals."
However, some people think there are problems with the law. Nutra Ingredients reports that executive director of the Alliance for Natural Health (ANH-USA) Gretchen DuBeau gave a presentation on Prop 65 at Expo East recently. DuBeau said that since April 2010, over 350 60-day notices have been filed against businesses by the Environmental Research Center (ERC). Over 100 notices were withdrawn. Some of the cases have been settled by businesses who, according to the article, could not afford to defend themselves.
"We believe the law is being significantly abused and we’d like to see a new proposition on the ballot to replace Prop 65 in 2014," DuBeau said. "We’re talking to a lot of people about how to progress this."
Chris Heptinstall, executive director of the ERC, defended his organization. Hepinstall told Nutra Ingredients, "I’ve got no interest in putting companies out of business, I just want the industry to test its products and make sure it is compliant with the law, especially when it comes to lead and arsenic. Companies must then reformulate their products to make sure they are compliant with prop 65 levels."
Who is correct? Is Heptinstall, who claims the ERC only wants to force businesses to comply? Or is DuBeau correct, who think that Prop 65 needs a replacement? Tell us what you think.
Photo credit: mysafetysign.com