New Changes to California’s Proposition 65 Warning Labels

What is Proposition 65?

Proposition 65 is another name for the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986. It is a California law that aims to protect drinking water sources from any toxic substances that can cause harm.

Proposition 65 tries to reduce or eliminate exposures to chemicals that can cause cancer, birth defects, and other reproductive problems by requiring warning labels.

Any substances that are known to have a 1 in 100,000 chance of causing cancer over a 70-year period or substances that cause birth defects must be labeled.

The act makes it illegal for anyone to discharge any of those substances into drinking water sources and for businesses to knowingly expose the substances to anyone without providing a clear warning.

Proposition 65 has caused hundreds of products nationwide to remove harmful chemicals from their products.

Chemicals that are covered by Proposition 65 are regularly maintained and can be added or removed from the current list based on the current scientific information.

Some of the most popular chemicals on the Proposition 65 chemical list are Lead, Crystalline, Silica, Chromium, Wood Dust, and BPA.

A full list of over 800 chemicals that fall under Proposition 65 can be found here.

Warnings of these substances can be found everywhere in California, and it is very common to see one.

Changes to Proposition 65

New changes to Proposition 65 went into effect on August 30th, 2018. It’s important that companies stay up to date to avoid lawsuits and fees.

Warning labels used to only have to say that there were harmful substances in a product. They did not disclose what chemical was being used or what the level of risk was.

Now consumers will be informed of at least one of the names of those chemicals and exactly what risks the chemicals possesses.

Another change was made to keep up with the growth of e-commerce.

Internet sales now must follow the rules of Proposition 65 and warnings must be displayed on the display page of a product before the purchase of the product. You must provide a hyperlink to so consumers can find more information on Proposition 65.

  • New 2018 labels will need to have a link to a website ( with more information on Proposition 65, and they need a warning symbol with an exclamation point in a yellow and black triangle.
  • The labels need to be in at least six-point font and must have another language on it other than English.

  • Retailers are now only responsible for providing warnings if they have been notified of changes.

  • The word “WARNING” in all capital letters and bold font must be on the label.

  • These on-product warnings “must be in a type size no smaller than the largest type size used for other consumer information on the product” and must have a minimum six-point font.

Proposition 65 Labels from Smith Corona

All these new regulations will apply to any products that are manufactured after August 30th, 2018.

What You Need to Do

If your company know needs labels in order to comply with Proposition 65, it’s very easy to get them.

It’s important that your labels are high-quality and able to withstand several different kinds of weather and environmental changes. At Smith Corona, you can buy factory direct labels in various sizes. You can find more information on durable labels at the lowest price here.

If you are unsure whether you need labels, you can find out more about the Proposition 65 chemical list below.

How Chemicals are Added to Proposition 65

   Lopez, Martin. “Two Test Tubes.” Retrieved from

The State of California is required to update their list of harmful chemicals at least once a year. There are four ways a chemical can be added to the list.

Labor Code (LC)

Chemicals identified by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer as a cause of cancer in humans or animals.

State’s Qualified Experts (SQE)

A chemical can be added if two independent committees of scientific and health expert find that the chemical causes cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm. The Carcinogen Identification Committee (CIC) and the Developmental and Reproductive Toxicant Identification Committee (DARTIC) meet annually to evaluate the chemicals that fall under Proposition 65.

Formally Required to be Labeled (FR)

If an agency of the state or federal government requires a chemical to be listed as causing cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive issues, it will be added to the list.

Authoritative Bodies (AB)

The CIC and DARTIC can designate organizations as authoritative bodies. Right now authoritative bodies include the US Environmental Protection Agency, US Food and Drug Administration, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the National Toxicology Program of the US Department of Health and Human Services, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

Drawbacks to Proposition 65

Proposition 65 is often criticized because it relies on citizen enforcement rather than government enforcement.

The law allows anyone to bring forward a case if a listed chemical is found in a product. However, a substance can be way below the amount required for labeling and a case can still be filed. This causes businesses to spend tons of money in court to prove they are within regulation and defendants usually end up settling to avoid further expenses.

In 2008, there was a total of $14.6 million in attorney fees and only $4.6 million in civil penalties as a result of Proposition 65.

As a result, more and more products have warnings on them, and consumers don’t know what is actually harmful and what isn’t.

There is also another big flaw in Proposition 65. Since new scientific studies are always being done, the harmful chemical list is continuously growing and changing.

Constant changes make it hard for companies to update their labels and they may be targeted by a “bounty hunter.” Bounty hunter is a term for people who actively seek out companies that are in violation of Proposition 65.

Although there is a one-year grace period to provide warnings for a new chemical added to the state’s list, companies still have a hard time avoiding bounty hunters.

Take the chemical Cocamide DEA for example. Cocamide DEA is a foaming agent used in shampoos and other related products.

On the one-year anniversary of Cocamide DEA being added to the chemical list, there were dozens of claims made by bounty hunters against manufacturers and retailers. Many of the companies with claims made against them tried to remove unlabeled products from shelves but were unable to remove all of their old inventory from the market.

If you need Prop 65 labels to stay in compliance with Proposition 65 and to avoid any bounty hunters, you can visit Smith Corona for more information.