Su-PERFLUO-us? More Chemicals Added to Prop 65 List
Business owners manufacturing, buying, selling, or importing products in California already know about the state’s Prop 65 law. But do they also know every single chemical or substance that is on that list?
They couldn’t possibly unless gifted with total recall, and even then they would have to keep up with numerous revisions made by the state’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA). As of December, nearly 1,000 contaminants have been added over the past 30 or so years – substances that are known to the State of California “to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity.”
Some recent additions to the list are perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), members of the perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) family of chemicals.
As of now, the State has not determined a Maximum Allowable Dose Level. The federal Environmental Protection Agency however, established a drinking water health advisory level at 70 parts per trillion. Nevertheless, California businesses with 10 or more employees must provide warning labels on products that contain these PFOs, and in buildings where PFOA or PFOS may exist.
The chemicals are widely used to protect products from moisture and potential stains and to reduce friction in mechanical industries. So which businesses will most likely be affected?
- Food Manufacturers & Packagers (packaged foods with coated paper);
- Restaurants & Other Food Vendors (seafood or fish from water contaminated by PFOS, take-out containers, pizza boxes, popcorn bags, etc.);
- Manufacturers (cosmetics, camping equipment, water/stain resistant clothing, water/stain resistant treatment products for clothing or furniture, carpeting, etc.);
- Commercial Building owners and managers;
- Retailers and Distributors dealing with any of the above.
According to the EPA, the contaminants aren’t made in the U.S. anymore – but PFOAs and PFOSs still show up in many imported products. And they don’t biodegrade well, thus the recent concerns regarding their presence in groundwater, fish, etc.
Anyone dealing in these and other products that contain PFOAs or PFOSs in California should post a Prop 65 warning label on products that contain these contaminants, and in buildings where employees or consumers may be exposed to the chemicals.
Stephen T. Holzer is a Business Litigation Attorney and Chair of our Environmental Practice Group.