Last month, California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) issued proposed changes to regulations governing Proposition 65’s safe harbor warnings for consumer product exposures. If adopted, the revisions would impose substantial limitations on the use of the short-form warning and allow the short form’s use for foods. Comments on the proposed revisions are due by March 8.

Prop 65 regulations place the responsibility for providing consumer product warnings on the manufacturers, producers, packagers, importers, suppliers or distributors of consumer products. These businesses must either provide a warning on the product label or labeling, or provide their direct customers or retailers with a written notice and warning materials to notify consumers. OEHHA adopted “Article 6: Clear and Reasonable Warnings” requirements in 2016, which establish the elements of safe harbor warnings deemed to meet statutory standards of “clear and reasonable.” Under the article, manufacturers are allowed to use short-form warnings which do not require the naming of specific chemicals. This requirement was established so that warnings could be applied to products with limited label space, but did not impose any label size limits.

OEHHA issued its proposed amendment over concerns about the wide-spread use of short-form warnings by manufacturers. The amended requirements would limit their use by clarifying when and how short-form warnings can be used. It would only allow the short-form warning on products with five square inches or less of “label space” and when the standard warning will not fit, prohibit the short-form warning for Internet and catalog sales, require that the identity of at least one chemical per relevant toxicity endpoint be included in the short-form warning, and clarifies that short-form warnings may be used on food products.

OEHHA has proposed a one-year transition period before the new requirements would become effective, and products bearing the current short-form warning would be allowed to be sold after the effective date of the regulations if they were manufactured prior to the effective date.