4 April 2019
New Study Praises Lead Reduction Benefits of Proposition 65
A new study by the California-based watchdog Center for Environmental Health contends that the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act (commonly known as Proposition 65) has led to “dramatic reductions” in the lead content of purses and candy in California and nationwide.
Based on two independent data sets, the report shows significant declines in the prevalence of lead-containing products. According to CEH, the proportion of chili and tamarind candies with hazardous lead content fell from 45 percent to only three percent over a five-year period, while the proportion of faux leather purses made with lead-containing pigments declined from 34 percent to eight percent over a seven-year period. CEH adds that results from products purchased on-line suggest that the decline was national, and not just limited to California.
This is just the second quantitative study conducted to determine whether litigation to require warnings on hazardous products in California results in the increased availability of safer products. According to the watchdog, the findings correlate with a 2010 CEH report showing that litigation efforts and corresponding legislation led to an “enormous reduction” in the prevalence of lead in jewellery.
Prop 65 does not ban or restrict the use of listed chemicals. Instead, 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. No such warning is required if exposure to a chemical occurs at or below any established safe harbour level.