New warning requirements proposed for California's Prop. 65.

This week, California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) announced its proposal to amend Proposition 65 warnings. OEHHA’s proposal is aimed at improving the quality of Prop. 65 warnings, and is part of the suite of Prop. 65 reforms advocated by Governor Jerry Brown.

A pre-regulatory public workshop on the same topic was held in July; the new proposal provides more detail and incorporates changes and feedback from comments received in response to the agency’s initial pre-regulatory proposal. OEHHA has prepared a Draft Pre-Regulatory Initial Statement of Reasons for the Warning Regulation [PDF] and Draft Pre-regulatory Warning Regulation [PDF], as well as a side-by-side comparison [PDF] between the draft regulatory language and current regulations.

Generally, the proposal establishes certain standards for what warning language counts as “clear and reasonable.” The draft regulations would require the word “WARNING” to appear in all capital letters and bold print, and specifies use of the word “expose” in the following warning language. Notably, the new proposal requires the use of a standard pictogram for toxic hazards from the Globally Harmonized System (GHS), except for on food products, drugs, and medical devices. A new OEHHA website would provide the public with more detailed information on warnings, including exposure pathways and methods of reducing exposure. The proposal also specifies the following twelve common substances (already listed under Prop. 65) that must be identified by name in the warning:

  • Acrylamide
  • Arsenic
  • Benzene
  • Cadmium
  • Chlorinated Tris
  • 1,4-Dioxane
  • Formaldehyde
  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Phthalates
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Toluene

In addition, the proposal recognizes court-approved warning language and provides for “tailored” warning language for certain scenarios, such as dental care, apartment buildings and hotels, parking facilities, and amusement parks. OEHHA also proposes a new “Opportunity to Cure” provision for small retailers to fix certain minor violations within 14 days and avoid private enforcement actions, with the goal of avoiding frivolous litigation.

OEHHA will hold a public workshop to discuss the proposal on April 14 and will accept comments through May 14, 2014. After the workshop and comment period, OEHHA plans to propose the formal regulation in early summer 2014, with the expectation that final regulations could be adopted in the summer of 2015.