SAFEGUARDS | Consumer Products NO. 105/17

SafeGuardS liquid chemicals

California has recently listed Penta-BDE mixture, a technical mixture of flame retardants, under Proposition 65. The provision for clear and reasonable warnings will become effective on July 7, 2018.

California Proposition 65 (Prop 65 [1]) is the ‘Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986’, a ballot initiative passed overwhelmingly by California residents in November 1986. It requires the state to publish a list of chemicals [2] that are known to cause cancer, birth defects or reproductive harm. The list was first published in 1987 and is updated at least once a year.

On July 7, 2017, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) announced [3] the inclusion of pentabromodiphenyl ether mixture (penta-BDE mixture, DE-71 (technical grade)) in the list of chemicals under Prop 65.

The listing of penta-BDE mixture as a chemical known to cause cancer places two important provisions upon companies doing business in California. These are:

  • Providing a clear and reasonable warning before knowingly and intentionally exposing anyone to penta-BDE mixture. Businesses have 12 months to comply with this requirement
  • Prohibiting from knowingly discharging penta-BDE mixture into sources of drinking water. Businesses have 20 months to comply with this requirement

Businesses with less than 10 employees and government agencies are exempt from these 2 provisions. Businesses are also exempt from these provisions if the exposures create no significant risk of cancer.

The provision for a clear and reasonable warning will become effective on July 7, 2018.

Highlights of the new listing of penta-BDE mixture are summarized in Table 1.

Substance Date Listed Toxicity Effective Date

Penta-BDE mixture

[(DE-71 technical grade)]

July 7, 2017 Cancer
  • July 7, 2018 for a clear and reasonable warning
  • March 7, 2019 for prohibition from discharging into sources of drinking water

Penta-BDE mixture is an additive flame retardant and has a number of applications, including but not limited to, flexible polyester foam materials in automotive seats, carpet padding, furniture and mattresses. This flame retardant is also known to be used in electrical and electronic equipment, including electric toys.

The use of penta-BDE mixture is regulated by a host of jurisdictions across the US, including California, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and Washington DC.

NEXT STEP: Stakeholders are advised to ensure that their products comply with the requirements for penta-BDE mixture under Prop 65.

Throughout a global network of laboratories, SGS can offer comprehensive testing, product assessments and consultancy services related to California Proposition 65 to assist your risk management in your supply chain for consumer goods such as DIYs, electrical and electronics, hardgoods products, juvenile products, and textile & toy products. For further information, please visit our website.

For enquiries, please contact:

Hingwo Tsang
Global Information and Innovation Manager
t: +852 2774 7420

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