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Important Changes to Prop 65

03/21/2019 industry_insights

It’s on cars, vitamin supplements, at gas stations, hotel lobbies, office buildings, even at your favorite, or at least frequented haunts like McDonald’s and Starbucks. If you live in or visit California frequently, odds are you’ve seen it every day since 1986. What are we talking about?

Prop 65.

What is Prop 65?

Proposition 65 or Prop 65 refers to a California law formally known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986. The purpose of this law is to ensure that customers can make an “informed decision” when purchasing products that could expose them to harmful chemicals. Under Prop 65, products sold or used in California must carry a warning label if they contain or potentially contain certain chemicals. This list of chemicals has ballooned greatly from the initial passing of the law into some 900 such chemicals.

It’s important to note that Prop 65 affects all products in the state of California. The chemicals and exposure limits don’t just focus on items intended for a specific audience, such as children. Under the regulation exposure to a chemical can occur in several ways: oral, inhalation, transdermal or hand-to-mouth.

If items could end up in California in a consumer’s hands then you need to determine whether a warning label is required. If you don’t properly adhere to Prop 65, be prepared to pay the price. Lawyers (sometimes known as bounty hunters) can begin claims in the public interest and don’t always need evidence of harm to assist in enforcing this regulation.

Changes to Prop 65

On August 30, 2018, the Prop 65 warning label will change. New amendments to the regulation now mandate that in the warning, manufacturers must specify the chemicals present in the product. Some short form labels are allowed that do not have to indicate the chemical(s) included. In addition, food and alcoholic beverages must now carry the warnings when necessary.

The changes also require that any online sales going to California reasonably warn the consumer prior to purchase. The warning used on the website must match the warning used on the product.

Staples will adhere to these new changes with the use of the short-form warning label and will use the various short form formats when possible. The new requirements also added a large yellow triangle with black exclamation point to make the warning more noticeable.

How will this affect you?

Changes to the warning labels of Prop 65 will affect many products and websites. Expect to see an increase in the number of warnings you see, as well as the specificity of toxin type, such as cancer and reproductive harm. Many companies would rather over-label than face an expensive lawsuit.

For more information on the changing Staples labels, contact a live customer service representative at 1-800-369-4669. For more information about OEHHA labeling guidelines, please visit