A little background before we take a look at the warnings. Proposition 65, aka The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, was placed before the voters of California in 1986 and passed. In general, it requires the State of California to maintain a list of chemicals known to the state to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm AND for businesses to provide a clear and reasonable warning before knowingly or intentionally exposing anyone to a chemical on the list.
You have probably seen a version of a Prop 65 warning sign like the one below. You can find them at gas stations, fast food restaurants, public parking garages, amusement parks, bars, hardware stores, apartment complexes, and hotels just to name a few locations.
WARNING! This area contains a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm.
It’s gotten to the point where the signs are so ubiquitous, that their effectiveness has been questioned. Sometimes I feel like the sign below sums it up.
WARNING! Everything in California and every place in California contains chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer, birth defects and/or other reproductive harm.
Well, in most cases, the old warnings are no longer good enough. With the new requirements, Prop 65 warnings must now include a new symbol, must have specific verbiage on them (including chemical names and sources of exposure), and must provide the website address: www.P65Warnings.ca.gov. Also, depending on where the warning is being placed (on a product, in an area), certain size font must be used. A sample of a new warning sign would look something like:
WARNING! Entering this area can expose you to chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm, including [name of one or more chemicals known to cause cancer and name of one or more chemicals known to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm], from [name of one or more sources of exposure]. For more information go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov.
One good thing, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has a website with a lot of good information and examples to help. https://www.p65warnings.ca.gov/sample-warnings-and-translations-businesses.