California Prop 65: This is What Importers Should Know

by | Sep 5, 2019 | Compliance, Lab Testing, Product Safety, Regulations

California is the most populous U.S. state, and its economy is also the nation’s largest.

With a GDP of over $3 trillion USD, on its own, it would be the fifth-largest economy in the world.

That means it is a large market for consumer product importers, and if you are selling products in the state, there is an important regulation you need to understand.

That is Proposition 65.

Today, we’re going to talk about what Cal Prop 65 is and how it affects consumer goods importers who are selling their products in California.

What is Prop 65?

Also known as the “Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986,” it is a voter initiative with the goal of protecting residents of the state of California from harmful chemicals.

It aims to accomplish this through the use of labeling requirements.

The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) maintains a list of chemicals, both naturally occurring and synthetic.

The chemicals on the list are those known by the state of California to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm. Currently, it contains over 900 chemicals and is updated every year.

What you should understand is that the initiative doesn’t prohibit the selling of products that contain these chemicals.

However, it requires that if your products contain these chemicals in an amount that exceeds “safe harbor levels,” they need to come with a “clear and reasonable” warning.

That generally means placing a warning label on them. The label should have an exclamation point inside of a yellow triangle, followed by a warning message.

What Happens if You are Non-Compliant?

Man examining a vial of fluid during a lab test

Lab testing can help determine the presence of specific chemicals

The Prop 65 regulations are enforced through the state Attorney General’s Office, district attorneys, and city attorneys.

Individuals can also file lawsuits against businesses, and there are many private attorneys who make a practice out of looking for non-compliant products.

A “60-Day Notice” will be issued to you, and if a settlement is not reached before that time, you can be taken to court.

The fine for a non-compliant product is $2,500 per day, but cases often settle as trials can be costly.

It’s worth noting that there are even some litigators who purposefully seek out products that may have lower levels of the chemicals than what is required for labeling.

But, as many companies will not want to deal with an expensive court case, their goal is to try to get them to settle.

If you receive a notice, you should seek the advice of an attorney specializing in matters relating to CA Prop 65. You should also consider conducting lab tests to help assess the validity of the claims against you.

What are the California Prop 65 Testing Requirements?

There are no specific requirements for testing your products.

However, laboratory testing services can help you determine if your products contain specific chemicals that are on the proposition 65 list.

So, if you want to be sure whether your products contain listed chemicals, lab tests can be a good idea.

Lab tests also play an important role in ensuring the quality of your products more generally.

It is important to consider the tradeoffs between the price you pay for your products and their quality. For more information about this, we recommend you read the following white paper.

Price vs. Quality: What You Need to Know

When you’re making products to sell in the marketplace, you have to consider the tradeoffs between price and quality. Sometimes, producing better quality products can lead to paying a higher price for manufacturing.

Download our free white paper, Price vs. Quality, to learn how to produce great quality while keeping your costs low.

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