California biohazards: true or false?


A sign in the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California displays a Proposition 65 warning.

Robert Loose, Reporter

“WARNING: This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm. (California law requires this warning to be given to customers in the State of California).”

California’s Proposition 65 states, “Any product with chemicals that may cause birth defects or cancer must have this label.” These warning labels are everywhere, often on products that don’t seem dangerous or chemical-based, such as hard plastics, ceramics, clothes, and even some foods. The question is, is this a problem?

“A lot of times what happens with that is in the research, when it’s shown, like in rats or something to be a problem,” said Natalie Paxton, chemistry teacher. “A lot of times, I wouldn’t be worried about that personally because the amount of exposure isn’t high enough to worry about.”

So if the amount of chemicals found in the product aren’t the problem, what is? According to biology teacher Michelle du Randt, the issue is less of a chemical problem, and more of a political backup. “The thing is that California is such a weird state with so much suing going on that I think that even if there is a slight chance that being carcinogenic or cancer causing they are going to put [the Warning] on there,”said du Randt.

According to the California Office of Health, there are over 30 court cases relating to Proposition 65, all of which brought up in California, including the case of Sierra Club, a woman who sued the CIC (Carcinogen Identification Committee) for not republishing the revised list of carcinogenic chemicals, resulting in a change to the revision of the list as well as how the list is changed.

However, not everyone is so dismissive of the labels. Tremiti Childs, Junior, is more cautious, not wanting to take a chance with things that are proven to have harmful effects. When asked if she would buy something normal with this tag on it, she stated she probably wouldn’t.

The State of California does tests with all the chemicals listed on Proposition 65 to ascertain their danger, including, but is not limited to” aloe vera (non-decolorized whole leaf extract, cited for cancer), asbestos (cited for cancer), and carbon monoxide (cited for Developmental Toxicity). This list is currently at several hundred chemicals, most of which will never be found outside a lab. Because of this, these products are rarely causes to worry, but user discretion is advised. For more information,