Proposition 65 is a California law officially know as the California Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986. It requires businesses to provide a “clear and reasonable” warning before exposing persons, consumers, employees and the general public to chemicals that are known to the state of California to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm (“Listed Chemicals”). The Proposition 65 warning applies to exposures from consumer products, emissions from facilities and workplace exposures in the State of California. Proposition 65 is a “right to know” law as opposed to a safety law, meaning Proposition 65 does not ban the use of any chemicals, but is intended to ensure the public is informed as to its exposure to Listed Chemicals.
The list of the 800+ Prop 65 chemicals can be found at:
This list is periodically updated.
A business must provide a warning with its product if it is reasonably foreseeable that a person in California will buy or receive the product. The regulations provide that the warning may appear (1) on a product, its packaging or written materials accompanying the product, (2) at the retail outlet through shelf labeling or signs or (3) appear through a system of signs, public advertising identifying the system and toll-free information services provided prior to purchase for internet or mail order sales or the supplier must offer free return shipping.
Proposition 65 applies to any “person in the course of doing business” with ten or more employees, including companies located outside the State of California. The term “person” is defined broadly to include any individual, trust, firm, joint stock company, corporation, company, partnership, limited liability company and association. “In the course of doing business” means any act or omission by an employee that furthers the purpose or operation of the business, whether or not the act or omission is for profit.
Proposition 65 gives authority to the State Attorney General and local governments (district attorneys, city attorneys and county counsel) to take enforcement action against businesses that violate that law. The statute provides for a court to impose penalties of up to $2,500 per day against businesses for each day of exposure to a product sold or distributed by that business without a required warning. Proposition 65 further authorizes for injunctive relief requiring warning be provided on future sales and distribution of products containing listed chemicals and directing market withdrawal of products that do have such warnings.
As noted above, Proposition 65 also permits a private citizen to bring the same enforcement actions against businesses to impose penalties, obtain injunctive relief and recover investigative costs and attorney’s fees, provided that the private plaintiff satisfies certain procedural requirements.
California 65 Websites:
Prop 65 Homepage
Prop 65 in plain language
List of Prop 65 chemicals