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Toxic Enforcement

Proposition 65 Warning Sign

A California Starbucks posts a Proposition 65 warning. Image: Flikr/zcopley

As You Sow is one of the leading enforcers of California's innovative Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, also known as Proposition 65.

This consumer right-to-know law was enacted by a ballot initiative in 1986 when California voters approved it by a 2-1 margin.

The initiative specifies that when a company, through its products or processes, exposes citizens to known carcinogens or reproductive toxins, it must provide warnings to consumers. It prohibits discharges of such chemicals into the state's drinking water, and mandates civil penalties for violations of the law.

In May of 2013, Governor Jerry Brown proposed updates to the law. As You Sow supports the suggested improved warning labels but cautions against lowering chemical limits and putting California families at risk. Read our press release here >>

Since 1992, As You Sow has been working to bring hundreds of manufacturers and whole industries into compliance with Proposition 65. Significant victories include:

  • Negotiating the elimination of carcinogen 1,4 dioxane from Procter & Gamble's Tide brand laundry detergents sold to families across the country

  • Making millions of school kids safer by reducing or eliminating formaldehyde emissions from thousands of portable classrooms around California

  • Educating consumers and especially pregnant women about the dangers of mercury in fresh swordfish, tuna, and other marine species by developing informative warning protocols at grocery stores and fish markets

  • Reducing or eliminating lead exposure in children's jewelry, herbal supplements, water valves, sports equipment and other consumer products Eliminating the use of known carcinogen perchloroethyline from hundreds of industrial and consumer dry cleaning businesses, especially in low income communities

  • Eliminating DEHP and other carcinogenic phthalates from a wide array of vinyl consumer products, such as electronic earbuds and book bags

As You Sow encourages innovative settlements that reduce hazardous emissions, eliminate consumer exposures to toxics, and provide funds for employee training to lower worker exposure to toxic chemicals.

Where settlements have included restitutionary funds to compensate for an unjust benefit incurred by the violator, As You Sow distributes a portion of such monies to community groups working on toxics and environmental education through our grantmaking work.



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