Here comes Prop 65

Proposition 65 will expand its reach into day-to-day business dealings on Aug. 30.

Enacted as a ballot initiative in California in 1986, Proposition 65 protects the state’s drinking water sources from being contaminated with chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm, and it requires businesses to inform Californians about exposures to such chemicals.

Proposition 65 also requires the state to maintain and update a list of chemicals known to the state to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity. It is overseen by the state’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, which is the lead state agency for assessing health risks posed by environmental contaminants.

Now retailers must be ready to post proper signage that warns consumers of the dangers and toxins contained in some products. Noncompliance could result in heavy fines or unwanted litigation.

The other challenge retail outlets face is just how much warning is sufficient enough. While a warning sign might be placed near a product, a lawsuit could challenge that the sign was not large enough or prominently displayed due to a lack of definition in the code.

A major concern for the average lumberyard in California is knowing what suppliers are putting into the products carried by a yard. Unknowingly, a retailer could carry hundreds of products with hundreds of ingredients deemed toxic by California authorities.

The West Coast Lumber and Building Material Association (WCLBMA) has been working for months on making sure dealers can be compliant for Prop 65 coding. At the same time, the WCLBMA hopes that the regulation does not result in a standoff between dealers and suppliers.

“We should have enough information to keep this from becoming an ‘us versus them’ issue,” Ken Dunham, executive director of the WCLBMA told HBSDealer.