This is the best breakdown of this prop and it’s meaning, benefits and harm.


“California Prop 65 Controversy

Though the premise behind Prop 65 makes sense, there are some serious problems with the law.

No (Easy) Distinction Between Substances

Prop 65 doesn’t make a distinction between substances that are man-made (like paint, batteries, and exhaust) and those that are naturally found (like in soil and crops). For example, lead is a naturally occurring heavy metal found in natural products like produce. So organic cocoa powder, bentonite clay, or even collard greens would be in the same category as lead paint!

A substance like lead is less harmful when it’s naturally occurring as it is already bonded to another element (unlike lead in paint, cosmetics, etc. which is unbonded, bioavailable, and can accumulate in the body).

There is a “naturally occurring” exemption that companies can apply for, but the conditions are rigorous and the burden of proof is on the company. Many companies just label their products to avoid the hassle and expense, according to this article on the Consumer Products Law Blog.

Safe Harbor Levels Are Misleading

In an article titled “Pending California Lawsuit Has Industry in Waiting,” the writer explains that safe harbor levels for chemicals are set at 1000 times less than the level where no observable harm was found. (This information is available directly from California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment website as well.) While a warning about toxic substances seems like a good thing, it leaves consumers without real information about what harm these substances can actually do at the levels in the product.

It may even cause some to ignore the warnings and not take them seriously.

Potentially Bad for Small Business

Because Prop 65 has a citizen-suit provision, a lawyer can begin a claim “in the public’s interest” against a company. (They don’t need a “victim” or any evidence of harm.) These litigators are often referred to bounty hunters.

According to this article, over $150 million in attorney fees has been paid out since 2000. Though large corporations can absorb the cost of these suits, it is likely to hurt smaller businesses (like the ones that provide healthy, natural foods and supplements).

Hasn’t Improved Californians’ Health

If the point of Prop 65 is to improve Californians’ health, then it would make sense that there would be a measurable improvement over the last 30 years. Unfortunately research doesn’t support this. Chemistry World article explains that Prop 65 hasn’t improved the health of Californians, at least in relation to cancer rates.

Of course, 30 years may just not be long enough to see improvement, considering how toxic our world is. However, no decrease in cancer rates is still a significant finding and something to consider.”……….