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California Proposition 65 and the Tactical & Outdoor Industry

California Proposition 65 and the Tactical & Outdoor Industry

Customers might start noticing an additional warning tag on some of their gear as a result of the controversial California law known as the California Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 or “Proposition 65"

Proposition 65 is a law that applies to companies that operate or sell products to California residents.  It requires a warning posted on the product that the item may contain any of more than 800 elements that the California Air Resources Board considers harmful. Even if the products does not necessarily cause harm--the label is required.  For example the plastic buckles on a backpack might contain harmful chemicals if you were to eat them.  In fact, the California government has clarified that “the fact that a product bears a Proposition 65 warning does not by itself, mean that the product is unsafe.” The government has also explained that “You could think of Proposition 65 more as a ‘right to know’ law than a pure product safety law.”

Prop 65 Warning Prop 65 Warning Prop 65 Warning Prop 65 Warning

Even Disneyland has suffered under Prop 65.

Some California businesses post the sign out of abundance of caution.

Standard Proposition 65 Warning.

Prop 65 has even hit the food industry. Gentle reminder--don't eat the cups.


As a result of this law, many manufacturers in the outdoor and tactical industry are placing labels on their products in an abundance of caution to comply with the California law and avoid predatory lawsuits.

For manufacturers, the penalties and cost of complying with Proposition 65 are high.  As a result of the potential penalties and because there is no penalty for providing an unnecessary warning, most manufacturers, have elected to provide the Proposition 65 notice out of an abundance of caution in order to avoid the potential for liability.   

Imagine a manufacturer releases a new style of boots.  Do they pay thousands of dollars to have that new product scientifically tested and certified that it does not contain any of those harmful chemicals?  Or do they just take the cost effective approach and put a warning tag on each product that might contain one of those chemicals?  

The law appears to be very popular with California lawyers who have profited nearly $200,000,000.00 since 2000 via Prop 65 lawsuits.

California residents will see many of their products attached with a label stating “WARNING: This product contains a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer, birth defects and other reproductive harm.

While we realize this warning sounds alarming, manufacturers assure us that as long as you use the products the way they were intended to be used, there is no potential of harm.  So, to state this simpler, don't eat the products unless they were made for consumption.  Don't eat the soles of your boots or the plastic buckles on your backpacks.  A good idea might be to not eat the plastic bag that your gear came in or ingest those little white packing peanuts.  Use the products as they are intended.  We call that common sense.

For more information posting requirements, or for details about the Prop 65 warning language, see http://www.p65warnings.ca.gov/product.



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