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Proposition 65, officially known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, was enacted as a ballot initiative in November 1986. The proposition protects the state's drinking water sources from being contaminated with chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm, and requires businesses to inform Californians about exposures to such chemicals. Proposition 65, officially known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, was enacted as a ballot initiative in November 1986.
Proposition 65 also prohibits California businesses from knowingly discharging significant amounts of listed chemicals into sources of drinking water.
Proposition 65 requires California to publish a list of chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm. This list, which must be updated at least once a year, has grown to include approximately 900 chemicals since it was first published in 1987.
Proposition 65 became law in November 1986, when California voters approved it by a 63-37 percent margin. The official name of Proposition 65 is the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986.
The list contains a wide range of naturally occurring and synthetic chemicals that include additives or ingredients in pesticides, common household products, food, drugs, dyes, or solvents. Listed chemicals may also be used in manufacturing and construction, or they may be byproducts of chemical processes, such as motor vehicle exhaust.
If a warning is placed on a product label or posted or distributed at a workplace, a business, or in rental housing, the business issuing the warning is aware or believes that it is exposing individuals to one or more listed chemicals.
By law, a warning must be given for listed chemicals unless the exposure is low enough to pose no significant risk of cancer or is significantly below levels observed to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm.
The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) administers the Proposition 65 program. OEHHA, which is part of the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA), determines in many cases whether chemicals meet the scientific and legal requirements for placement on the Proposition 65 list, and administers regulations that govern warnings and other aspects of Proposition 65.
The enforcement of Proposition 65 is by any district attorney or city attorney (for cities whose population exceeds 750,000). In addition, any individual acting in the public interest may enforce Proposition 65 by filing a lawsuit against a business alleged to be in violation of this law. State law requires any person suing "in the public interest" to enforce Proposition 65, "The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986", to notify the Attorney General of the lawsuit and outcome of the case.
Lawsuits have been filed by the Attorney General’s Office, district attorneys, consumer advocacy groups, private citizens (bounty hunters) and law firms.
By failing to provide proper disclosure, penalties can be as high as $2,500 per day, per violation.
If you have specific questions on the administration or implementation of Proposition 65, you can contact OEHHA's Proposition 65 program at P65.Questions@oehha.ca.gov, or by phone at (916) 445-6900.
For enforcement information, contact the California Attorney General's Office at (510) 622-2160, or visit https://oag.ca.gov/prop65.
Questions? Contact Tom Tucker.