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A number of Prop 65 settlement agreements involving lead have been reached for a variety of products. Many of these allow a Prop 65 warning label as an alternative.

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.

Lead has been classified as a chemical known to cause reproductive toxicity since February 1987 [3]. It has also been classified as a chemical known to cause cancer since October 1992. 

Companies doing business in California have been required to provide ‘a clear and reasonable warning’ before knowingly and intentionally exposing anyone to lead since February 1988. Businesses with less than 10 employees and government agencies are exempt from this provision. Businesses are also exempt from this provision if the exposures create no significant risk of cancer or other reproductive harm.

From August 30, 2018, businesses are required to comply with new and revised language for a clear and reasonable warning [4] for the purpose of Prop 65.

Prop 65 has been effective in reducing exposures to toxic chemicals. Since its enactment, there have been numerous lawsuits which resulted in the reduction of carcinogenic and reproductive chemicals by requiring reformulations of consumer products containing such chemicals. Of the 800 or so listed chemicals, consumer products containing flame retardants, lead and phthalates have been consistently targeted over the years.

Since Q4 of 2016, there have been a number of Prop 65 settlements requiring the reformulation of lead and/or providing a Prop 65 warning label in a wide variety of products. It is interesting to note that there was a settlement agreement involving both lead content and releasable lead (NIOSH 9100) for water heater drain valves (item 12, Table 1).

Highlights of these settlement agreements are summarized in Table 1. A Prop 65 settlement is a consent agreement between the parties named in the settlement and a party not named in a settlement is not bound by that settlement.

Item Scope Reformulation for lead/Warning
1 Air chucks Prop 65 warning
2 Faucet remodel kits ≤ 100 ppm otherwise warning
3 Galvanized hardware cloth ≤ 100 ppm for galvanizing solution otherwise warning for product
4 Glass jewelry box with mirrored bottom and ridged metal frame ≤ 100 ppm
5 Key rings ≤ 100 ppm for handgrips and/or accessible surfaces otherwise warning
6 Quick connectors ≤ 100 ppm otherwise warning
7 Picture hanging kits

Galvanizing solution in which materials are submerged
≤ 300 ppm and

Non-galvanized materials (e.g. brass alloys)
≤ 300 ppm

otherwise warning for product

8 Shock absorbers ≤ 100 ppm otherwise warning
9 Thermometers and pressure gauges with NPT connectors ≤ 100 ppm otherwise warning
10 Twist hose and jet sweeper nozzles (Twist/jet nozzles) ≤ 100 ppm otherwise warning
11 Water filter kits ≤ 100 ppm otherwise warning
12 Water heater drain valves ≤ 90 ppm lead content and ≤ 1 μg releasable lead
13 Whip hose extensions ≤ 0.03% for exposed brass or other metal components otherwise warning

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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