BPA Added to California Prop 65 List

Beginning this spring, Californians can expect to be flooded with even more Prop 65 warnings on the goods they purchase, thanks to the addition of bisphenol-A (BPA) to the Proposition 65 list. Proposition 65 (formally known as “The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986”) aims to protect California consumers by reducing exposures to chemicals that may cause cancer or birth defects by, in part, requiring warnings on consumer products that expose consumers to those chemicals. In the 30 years since Prop 65 was adopted, these warnings, which often read “WARNING: This product contains a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer,” or “WARNING: This product contains a chemical known to the State of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm,” have become ubiquitous and due to their familiarity, often fade into the background of the consumer goods landscape.
On May 11, 2015, BPA was added to the Prop 65 list following previous failed attempts to add the chemical. Per the provisions of Prop 65, warnings will have to accompany products that expose consumers to BPA beginning on May 11, 2016. BPA is used to make certain epoxy resins and plastics, including polycarbonates. It is commonly found in common polycarbonate consumer goods, and BPA containing epoxy resins are often used to line food and drink cans. BPA containing epoxy resins are also used to make thermal paper, which is commonly used for sales receipts. Given how common BPA is in consumer goods, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment is working to create special labeling rules for products that contain BPA. While these rules have not yet been finalized, they may allow general warning labels posted in stores (near the cash register, for instance) rather than warning labels on each and every consumer product.
Whether Prop 65 warnings on consumer goods affect consumer consumption habits has been the subject of much debate. However, failure to comply with Prop 65 warning requirements can be extremely costly for businesses. If you or your business has questions regarding Prop 65 compliance or the addition of BPA to the Prop 65 list, please give us a call.