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More Chemicals Added to California’s Proposition 65 List

Effective 21 October, California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment has added pentachlorophenol and by-products of its synthesis (complex mixture) to the list of chemicals known to the state to cause cancer for purposes of the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Proposition 65). OEHHA also recently listed furfuryl alcohol as causing cancer based on formal identification by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and is currently considering listing perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) as causing reproductive toxicity. Since the Proposition 65 list was first published in 1987 it has grown to include approximately 900 chemicals.

Beginning one year after a chemical is added to the Prop 65 list businesses are required to provide a “clear and reasonable” warning before knowingly and intentionally exposing anyone to that chemical unless they can show that the anticipated exposure level will not pose a significant risk of cancer or is significantly below levels observed to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm. This warning can be given in several ways; e.g., labelling a consumer product. However, no such warning is required if exposure to a chemical occurs at or below any established safe harbour level. Prop 65 also prohibits companies that do business within California from knowingly discharging listed chemicals into sources of drinking water, a requirement that kicks in 20 months after a chemical is listed.

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