Proposition 65 Update – New Warning & Labeling Requirements Become Effective August 30, 2018

The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, also known as Proposition 65, is a California-specific law that “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” (OEHHA, 2018). Proposition 65 requires the state to maintain and update a list of chemicals thought to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity (OEHHA, 2018). New warning and labelling requirements to Proposition 65 were adopted in August, 2016 and will become effective on August 30, 2018. According to Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), the new regulation will benefit the health and welfare of California residents and improve worker safety by providing more informative warnings, helping the public make informed decisions, and facilitating business compliance. The specific warning methods outlined below have been deemed by OEHHA to be clear and reasonable and provide “safe harbor” protection against enforcement actions; however, businesses can choose to use other warning methods and content.

For consumer products, the warning content necessary for meeting the safe harbor requirements now include: a triangular yellow symbol with a black exclamation point; the word “WARNING” capitalized and bolded; identification of the chemical that is considered a carcinogen/reproductive toxin; and the web address for OEHHA’s new Proposition 65 warnings website. The best practices for warning when there are multiple chemicals, however, is not outlined by OEHHA, and multiple approaches can be used.

For example, for consumer products, the label changes are illustrated below:


The method of transmission has also been updated and, most notably, includes a warning hyperlink for internet purchases. The new regulations also outline specific language for some products and area exposures, such as food, alcohol, restaurants, prescription drugs, dental care, wood dust, furniture, vehicles, amusement parks, enclosed parking facilities, petroleum products, service stations, hotels, and smoking areas. More information and a side-by-side comparison of the new and old regulations are available at OEHHA’s website ( 

Cardno ChemRisk has assisted companies in transitioning their label and by helping them to better understand the potential exposures in their product and industry. Our scientists are experienced at evaluating large and diverse product lines to best prioritize products or chemicals in order to maintain compliance with Proposition 65. We provide advice and assistance regarding screening level testing plans, screening or refined exposure assessments, and acceptable risk level calculations.