FAQs about California Proposition 65 Labeling Requirements for Plastic Pipe and Fitting Systems
Proposition 65 is a California law whose goal is to protect residents from chemicals that may cause cancer and birth defects. Within this law are labelling requirements for products sold in the State of California. In some cases, the law applies to the types of plastic pipe and fitting system products produced by PPI members and represented by PPI.
Proposition 65 does not impact the requirements for plastic pipe and fitting products sold outside California.
This webpage is intended to provide clarifying information on new warning labels that are being applied to the packaging of some of these products sold in California and other regions of North America, by addressing Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) arranged in various categories below.
- What is California Proposition 65?
- What are the revisions to Proposition 65 and when do they take effect?
- How do manufacturers comply with Proposition 65?
- What are the requirements for a Proposition 65 consumer product warning?
- What is the "Safe Harbor Level" about?
- How are plastic pipe and fitting products affected?
- Links for additional information.
What is California Proposition 65?
- The full name of California Proposition 65 (a.k.a. "Prop 65") is "Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986"
- Under this Act, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) maintains a list of more than 900 substances known to the state to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity
- Listing may cover specific route of exposure (i.e., inhalation, dermal, etc.)
- Examples include carbon black (airborne), formaldehyde (gas), vinyl chloride, lead and lead compounds, several phthalates, tobacco smoke, wood dust, and ethyl alcohol (in beverages)
- Proposition 65 is a "Right-to-know" statute that requires companies to provide a clear and reasonable warning when the company's products expose an individual to substances known to the state of California to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity
- OEHHA published regulations defining the "safe harbor" warning format. These regulations lay out warning symbol, text, and even font size requirements for warnings
- Proposition 65 applies to all products sold within the State of California, including consumer goods, commercial goods, and construction materials like piping systems
- Mere presence of a listed compound in a product does not trigger the need for a warning label
- Warnings are required if anticipated exposure exceeds safe harbor limit (see below)
- Additionally, warnings are required for occupational exposures; however, OSHA Hazardous Communication Standard-compliant warnings (typically given through a Safety Data Sheet) satisfy warning requirements for occupational exposure to listed chemicals under Proposition 65
What are the revisions to Proposition 65 and when do they take effect?
- In 2016, OEHHA updated its Proposition 65 regulations, with the updated regulations taking effect on August 30, 2018. The updates modify the format and content of the "safe harbor" Proposition 65-compliant warnings
- Products that were manufactured prior to August 30, 2018 that comply with the previous warning requirements may continue to be sold in California. The updated regulations modified the format and content of the warning, and did not impact the obligation to provide a clear and reasonable warning (if required)
How do manufacturers comply with Proposition 65?
- To determine whether a Proposition 65 warning is required, companies must first determine whether their product contains a listed substance, and if so conduct an exposure assessment to reasonable foreseeable uses of the product
- If the exposure is greater than a "safe harbor level" (discussed below), a clear and reasonable warning must be provided to the consumer
- Safe harbor warnings that are considered "clear and reasonable" are defined in the Proposition 65 regulations. For some products, California requires the label or labeling of a product to carry a clear and reasonable warning; in other situations, however, placards at the point of sale with the appropriate warning text are considered sufficient
- If a consumer product manufacturer does not affix the label itself or a retailer or distributor sells the products as loose items, the manufacturer can take the following steps:
- Provide a written notice to the retailer or distributor's authorized agent stating that a Proposition 65 warning is required;
- Include specific identifying information about the product, such as its name, description, UPC or other means;
- Provide all necessary warning materials; if the retailer is warning, the manufacturer should provide the shelf signs or tags;
- If the product is sold online, a consumer product warning must be shown on each product-specific web page; if a downstream retailer or distributor is making online sale arrangements, a manufacturer should give instructions regarding product page warnings
What are the requirements for a Proposition 65 consumer product warning?
- Proposition 65 defines the "safe harbor" consumer product warning language as follows:
- For exposure to either carcinogen(s) or reproductive toxicant(s): "WARNING: This product can expose you to chemicals including [name of one or more chemicals], which is [are] known to the State of California to cause [cancer/birth defects or other reproductive harm]. For more information go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/product."
- For exposure to both carcinogen(s) and reproductive toxicant(s): "WARNING: This product can expose you to chemicals including [name of one or more chemicals], which is [are] known to the State of California to cause cancer, and [name of one or more chemicals], which is [are] known to the State of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm. For more information go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov."
- The warning may be placed on the product itself, immediate container, box, wrapper, or otherwise at the "point of sale" with the product
- Short-form warnings may be used in place of the full language listed above if printed directly on the product or on an affixed label:
- WARNING: Cancer - www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/product
- WARNING: Reproductive Harm - www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/product
- Type size can be no smaller than the smallest type size on the product and no smaller than 6-point font
- "Warning triangle" symbol is required to accompany the standard or short-form warning text above, to the left of the text. The triangle must be no smaller than the height of the "WARNING" text
- The warning triangle symbol can be printed in black and white if the color yellow is not used on the labeling, sign, or shelf tag
- If the sign, label, or shelf tag includes consumer information in a language other than English, then the warning must be provided in the other language
- The new warnings must be used on products manufactured on or after August 30, 2018
What is the "Safe Harbor Level' about?
- Safe harbors (identified as No Significant Risk Levels, or NSRLs for carcinogens, or Maximum Allowable Dose Limits, or MADLs for reproductive toxicants) have been established by OEHHA for a number of listed chemicals
- These safe harbors are established based on the toxicity data available on the compound. If a safe harbor has not been established by OEHHA, companies may establish their own, based on internationally recognized risk assessment procedures
- Manufacturers of products sold in California should determine whether their products contain any listed substances, and then conduct an exposure assessment to determine whether a warning is required
- Exposure levels and discharges to drinking water sources that are below the safe harbor levels are exempt from the requirements of Proposition 65
How are plastic pipe and fitting products affected?
- Plastic pipe and fittings must continue to comply with national and international standards, such as those published by Standards Developments Organizations (SDOs) such as ASTM, AWWA, CSA, NSF, UL, and others
- The testing and certification requirements for products intended for transporting potable water (i.e. plumbing pipes and fittings, water service lines, water mains) have not changed. These products must still meet regulations described in relevant building codes and products standards, as well as the Safe Drinking Water Act.
- Plumbing products intended for transporting potable water are required by model plumbing codes and the regulations of most states and provinces to be tested and certified to the requirements of NSF/ANSI Standard 61 "Drinking Water System Components - Health Effects", which is not affected by Proposition 65
- Read more about NSF/ANSI Std. 61 here and here, and at PPI's Building & Construction Division website https://plasticpipe.org/building-construction/index.html
- The new or revised Proposition 65 labels appearing on certain plastic pipe and fitting products represented by PPI do not indicate that the product formulations have changed, or that any national regulations related to the safety of these products for their intended purposes has changed
- Proposition 65 is a labelling requirement only for the State of California; however, many manufacturers do not produce special products just for California, so they have chosen to label all affected products sold throughout North America in the same way
Links for additional information