The California state government in 1986 passed legislation that is intended to warn consumers in the state of the possibility of exposure to toxic chemicals. Officially known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, it is better known by its original name of Proposition 65.
Proposition 65 requires the State to publish a list of chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm. Currently, there are around 750 chemicals listed, with lead and cadmium being the chemicals of concern to decorators.
Proposition 65 requires businesses to notify Californians about significant amounts of these listed chemicals in the products they purchase, in their homes or workplaces, or that are released into the environment. Proposition 65 specifically lays out the required testing method, limits for lead and cadmium leaching, and the warning requirements for articles that exceed the limits.
The test method specified for leaching lead and cadmium from ceramic dinnerware, is ASTM C 738 (AOAC 973.32). Limits for warning purposes are:
- Flatware - 0.226 ppm Pb / 3.164 ppm Cd
- Small Hollow ware - 0.100 ppm Pb / 0.322 ppm Cd
- Large Hollow ware - 0.100 ppm Pb / 0.084 ppm Cd
- Cups and Mugs - 0.100 ppm Pb
Ceramic ware does not need warnings if the leaching test results are below the specified levels shown above. In addition, Federal limits still apply to ceramic dinnerware regarding allowable lead and cadmium leaching.
The information provided here is a very brief overview of Proposition 65, and is not meant to answer all questions regarding this law. Any decorators whose products may end up in California (even if not originally sold there), need to be aware of this law, and its ramifications for them, to avoid potential costly problems.
To review the warning requirements, or to view the regulation in its entirety, please refer to the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment web site at www.oehha.ca.gov/prop65/background/index.html