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The Right to Know Chemicals in Cleaning Products Passes in California

A bill that will require companies to tell California consumers about the chemicals in cleaning products, including chemicals that are on California’s Prop 65 list, was passed by the California Senate in September.

The bill, known as the Cleaning Product Right to Know Act (SB 258), will make California the first state to require ingredient labeling for common cleaning products if it is approved by California Governor Jerry Brown. The law stresses the inclusion of chemicals that are dangerous to health, including those listed under Prop 65.

Prop 65 is the California law approved by voters in 1986 that requires the state to publish a list of chemicals known to cause health problems. It currently contains more than 800 chemicals identified as causing serious problems and is updated yearly.

Under the new Cleaning Product Right to Know Act, companies will have to list the chemicals they use in the cleaning products they sell to consumers both on the product and online. This hasn’t been required before and represents a big win for consumers who are concerned about the products they bring into their homes.

A poll commissioned by sponsors of SB 258 showed 78% of California voters support the requirement that companies list cleaning product ingredients.

Advocacy groups also point out that those in the cleaning industry, like janitors, will now have a better idea of the chemicals they are being exposed to as a part of their work. Additionally, those with allergies and other health problems aggravated by exposure to chemicals or whose family members may be sensitive will know when not to bring a problem chemical home.

Under the terms of SB 258, trade secrets are protected, but companies that use chemicals listed in California’s Prop 65 will need to disclose that information.

According to NRDC.org, the bill is the result of momentum building through collaboration between the cleaning product industry and public health groups. The NRDC credits industry leaders for providing greater transparency about what chemicals go into their products.

PROP 65 AND THE NEW LAW

Chemicals in cleaning products will need to be disclosed if they are included in California’s Prop 65 list as causing cancer, birth defects or reproductive harm.

There are several different ways a chemical makes the list, including;

  • The chemical is identified in the California Labor Code;
  • The chemical is identified by the committees on Carcinogen Identification or Developmental and Reproductive Toxicant Identification;
  • The chemical is identified by an organization designated by one of the two committees as an authority; or
  • The chemical is required to be labeled by a state or federal government agency, like the Food and Drug Administration.

Companies that fail to make the required disclosures under California’s Prop 65 law can be held accountable. Consumers can bring legal action against them by filing a Prop 65 lawsuit, but a very specific procedure is necessary.

The Attorney General must first be notified and copies of the notification and supporting documentation must also be provided. Notice of settlement must also be provided to the Attorney General.

Because of the specific procedure under Prop 65 and the new California law, consumers who want to hold a company responsible for not notifying the public about dangerous chemicals in cleaning products should contact an experienced Prop 65 attorney.

Contact the experienced Prop 65 attorneys at Bradley/Grombacher by filling out the form on this page now. 

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