WHAT IS THIS WARNING?
You may have seen the following warning associated with littleBits products, as well as on other products purchased from other manufacturers:
WARNING: This product contains one or more chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm.
This warning is the result of a law passed in California in 1986 known as the California Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforce- ment Act of 1986, commonly referred to as “Proposition 65.”
This warning does not mean that littleBits products will necessarily cause cancer or reproductive harm. Furthermore, a Proposition 65 warning does not mean a product is in violation of any product-safety standards or requirements. To the contrary, the California government has clarified that “[t]he fact that a product bears a Proposition 65 warning does not mean by itself that the product is unsafe.” The California government has also explained, “You could think of Proposition 65 more as a ‘right to know’ law than a pure product safety law.” See http://oehha.ca.gov/prop65/background/p65plain.html
While we believe littleBits products are not harmful when used as designed, we provide the warning as a result of this California law known as Proposition 65.
WHAT IS PROPOSITION 65?
Proposition 65 is broad law that applies to any company operating in California, selling products in California, or manufacturing products that might be sold in or brought into California. It mandates that the Governor of California maintain and publish a list of chemicals that are known to cause cancer, birth defects, and/or other reproductive harm. The list, which must be updated annually, includes a wide variety of chemicals that can be found in many everyday items, such as dyes, solvents, drugs, food-additives, by-products of certain processes, pesticides and tobacco products. The purpose of Proposition 65 is to ensure that people are informed about exposure to these chemicals.
Proposition 65 also requires warnings to be placed on any product, product packaging, or literature accompanying a product that contains or may contain any of the 900-plus chemicals that the California Air Resources Board considers harmful. As noted above, many of the items listed under Proposition 65 have been routinely used in everyday consumer goods for years without documented harm.
A warning must be given if the listed chemical is merely present in a product unless a business demonstrates that the exposure it causes poses “no significant risk.” With respect to carcinogens, the “no significant risk” level is defined as the level that is calculated to result in not more than one excess case of cancer in 100,000 individuals exposed over a 70-year lifetime. In other words, if you are exposed to the chemical in question at this “no significant risk” level every day for 70 years, theoretically, it will increase your chances of getting cancer by no more than 1 case in 100,000 individuals so exposed.
With respect to reproductive toxicants, the “no significant risk” level is defined as the level of exposure which, even if multiplied by 1,000, will not produce birth defects or other reproductive harm. In other words, the level of exposure is below the “no observable effect level,” divided by 1,000. (The “no observable effect level” is the highest dose level that has not been associated with observable reproductive harm in humans or test animals.)
A Proposition 65 warning generally means one of two things: (1) the business has evaluated the relevant exposure and has concluded that it exceeds the “no significant risk level”; or (2) the business has chosen to provide a warning simply based on its knowledge about the presence of a listed chemical without attempting to evaluate the exposure. littleBits has chosen to provide the Proposition 65 warnings based on its knowledge about the presence of one or more listed chemicals without attempting to evaluate the level of exposure, as not all of the listed chemicals provide exposure limit requirements. With littleBits’ products, the exposure might be negligible or well within the “no significant risk” range. However, out of an abundance of caution, littleBits has chosen to provide the Proposition 65 warnings.
WHY DOES LITTLEBITS INCLUDE THIS WARNING?
The penalties for not complying with Proposition 65 are high. As a result of the potential penalties and because there is no penalty for providing an unnecessary warning, littleBits, as well as many other manufacturers, has chosen to provide the Proposition 65 warnings out of an abundance of caution in order to avoid the potential for liability.
I PURCHASED THIS PRODUCT OUTSIDE OF CALIFORNIA; WHY IS THIS WARNING INCLUDED?
littleBits’ products are sold nationwide. It would be extremely difficult and costly to determine which products will be ultimately sold or brought into California. Therefore, to ensure compliance with Proposition 65 requirements, littleBits has chosen to include the Proposition 65 warnings on all littleBits products, regardless of origin.
For more information about Proposition 65, please visit: http://www.oehha.ca.gov/prop65/getNSRLs.html