Fact Sheet: Proposition 65
Revised: January 1997
Contact: For additional information regarding Proposition 65, please contact Cynthia Oshita, Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, at (916) 445-6900.
Proposition 65 requires the Governor to publish a list of chemicals that are known to the State of California to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm. Nearly 580 chemicals have been listed as of September 1, 1996.
Proposition 65 imposes certain requirements that apply to chemicals that appear on this list. These requirements are designed to protect California's drinking water sources from contamination by these chemicals, to allow California consumers to make informed choices about the products they purchase, and to enable residents or workers to take whatever action they deem appropriate to protect themselves from exposures to harmful chemicals.
The list contains a wide range of chemicals, including dyes, solvents, pesticides, drugs, food additives, and by-products of certain processes. These chemicals may be naturally occurring or synthetic. Some of them are ingredients of common household products, others are specialty chemicals used in very specific industrial applications.
A chemical is listed if the "state's qualified experts"--an independent panel of scientists and health professionals appointed by the Governor--find that the chemical has been clearly shown to cause cancer or birth defects or other reproductive harm.
Chemicals are also listed if:
- A body considered to be "authoritative" by the State's qualified experts has
formally identified the chemical as causing cancer or reproductive toxicity; or
- A state or federal government agency has formally required the chemical to be labeled or identified as causing cancer or reproductive toxicity.
Proposition 65 applies to all persons doing business in California, except those businesses which have fewer than 10 employees. Governmental entities and drinking water utilities are exempt.
Businesses must, twelve months after a chemical is listed, provide a "clear and reasonable warning" before knowingly and intentionally exposing anyone to a listed chemical. Twenty months after a chemical is listed, businesses are prohibited from knowingly discharging or releasing the chemical into water or air, or into land where such chemical passes or probably will pass into any source of drinking water. Warning is required and discharge is prohibited unless the business responsible can show that the exposure or discharge pose no significant risk.
The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment expect to introduce, by November 1997, a proposal to establish and define procedures for "delisting" when appropriate due to new scientific information, chemicals that had been placed on the list based on findings made by the State's qualified experts.
Proposition 65, formally known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Health and Safety Code, Chapter 6.6, Sections 25249.5 through 25249.13) was enacted as a ballot initiative in November 1986. The requirements imposed by Proposition 65 on persons doing business in California apply to chemicals that appear on the list. The California Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment is designated by the Governor as the lead agency for Proposition 65 implementation.