Anti-Toxins Law Amended to Protect Businesses

Prop 65 warning label

by | Oct 8, 2013

Prop 65 warning labelCalifornia Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill that weakens the state’s anti-toxins law in an effort to reduce what he calls frivolous lawsuits and fines for businesses.

Proposition 65, the state’s landmark safe drinking and anti-toxins law approved by voters in 1986, outlaws discharges of certain toxic chemicals into sources of drinking water. The law also requires businesses to post warning signs or labels about the presence of certain chemicals that cause cancer or birth defects.

Businesses that don’t comply can be sued by the attorney general or citizens represented by private attorneys. The California attorney general’s office maintains a database of Proposition 65 enforcement reporting, which includes a list of private part actions and settlements.

Toxic chemicals have been removed from many products because of the law. But some business owners, particularly coffee shops and bars, complain the law has also led to frivolous lawsuits and excessive fines, the Los Angeles Times reports. For instance, signs warning customers that cancer-causing toxic acrylamide is present in their brewed coffee can be found in coffee shops throughout the state.

AB 227, which the California legislature passed last month, gives business receiving a notice of Proposition 65 violation two weeks to post the required notices on the presence of toxic chemicals and pay a $500 fine before they can be subject to lawsuits or bigger penalties. For example, ABB 227 protects businesses from Proposition 65’s $2,500 per-day retroactive fine.

Earlier this month, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment added trichloroacetic acid to its list of chemicals regulated under Proposition 65, according to Shook Hardy and Bacon. The chemical is commonly used for cosmetic treatments including chemical skin peels, tattoo removal and treatment for warts, moles and skin tags.

Photo Credit: Wikicommons Media

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