Proposition 65, the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, is a California voter initiative that requires the state to publish a list of chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm and must be updated at last once per year. Since 1978, the list has grown to about 800 chemicals. Proposition 65 requires that businesses notify Californians about chemicals in the products they purchase or that are released into the environment, which in turn empowers Californians to make informed decisions about protecting themselves from exposure to these chemicals. Proposition 65 also prohibits California businesses from knowingly contaminating our drinking water.
There are 4 ways a chemical is added to the Prop 65 list:
- One of two subdivisions of the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment ‘s (OEHHA) Science Advisory Board, the Carcinogen Identification Committee (CIC) and the Developmental and Reproductive Toxicant (DART) Identification Committee, determine that the chemical has been shown to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm. The members of these committees are appointed by the Governor and they must consider comments from the public before making their decisions (I’ll get back to this important point soon).
- The CIC and DART have designated the following “”authoritative body” to also determine if a chemical has been shown to cause cancer or birth defects: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (U.S. FDA), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, National Toxicology Program, and International Agency for Research on Cancer.
- If an agency of the state or federal government requires that a chemical (in this case a prescription drug) be labeled as causing cancer or birth defects or other reproductive harm it will then be included in the Prop 65 list.
- The original Prop 65 list was developed in 1986 using certain scientific criteria and identified in the California Labor Code as causing cancer or birth defects or other reproductive harm.
Prop 65 is enforced by the California Attorney General’s Office. Any district attorney or city attorney (for cities whose population exceeds 750,000) may also enforce Proposition 65. Have you ever seen a notice posted at your child’s elementary school announcing when Round-Up has been sprayed on campus? Well this written warning is required by law! Penalties for violating Prop 65 by failing to provide notices can be as high as $2,500 per violation per day. For more information about enforcing Prop 65, please visit http://ag.ca.gov/prop65/.
Last year, the OEHHA issued a notice of intent to list glyphosate (the active ingredient in Round-Up and other weed killers) to the Prop 65 list. They proposed a No Significant Risk Level (NSRL) for the chemical of 1100 mcg/day to be adopted into regulation. There are a couple of reasons why there have been delays in the process of adding glyphosate to the list. First, Monsanto petitioned to block the OEHHA from including glyphosate in the Fresno County Superior Court case Monsanto v OEHHA. Monsanto lost, but they are still trying to appeal. Now that Monsanto has been defeated, the OEHHA is now waiting (as required) for comments from the public before making a decision — and the deadline to submit your thoughts have been extended to 5 pm on Wednesday June 21st, 2017. This is THE TIME to tell OEHHA that a more reasonable No Sage Risk Level (NSRL) would be 0.0001 micrograms/day (where several advocacy groups have determined won’t increase the breast cancer rate) rather than the 1100 micrograms/day that has been proposed.
There are several ways you can voice your thoughts on glyphosate:
- Submit online comments at https://oehha.ca.gov/comments
- E-mail comments to P65Public.Comments@oehha.ca.gov and also email firstname.lastname@example.org with “GLYPHOSATE NSRL” in the subject line.
- Fax a letter to (916) 323-2265
- Attend the live public hearing in Sacramento on Wednesday, June 7, 2017 at 1:30 at the California Environmental Protection Agency Headquarters Building (1001 I Street, 2nd Floor, Sierra Hearing Room)
Ok let’s make this even easier with a sample letter template:
Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment
Attn: Esther Barajas-Ochoa, Regulations Coordinator
P.O. Box 4010. MS-12B
1001 I Street
Sacramento, CA 95812
Re: Support for Prop 65 Glyphosate Listing
Dear Ms. Barajas-Ochoa,
I support OEHHA’s proposal to list glyphosate as a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer under Proposition 65. California law requires that “substances listed as human or animal carcinogens by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)” be listed under Proposition 65. IARC is an arm of the World Health Organization, and the world’s leading authority on cancer. Californians deserve to know that glyphosate has been found to cause cancer in animals. By requiring warning labels for glyphosate, you are empowering California’s to make decisions to minimize their exposure to a known carcinogen.
Please list glyphosate as a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer under Proposition 65 and clarify that the NRSL be lowered to 0.0001 micrograms/day.
Alright, it’s time for all those who eat food, breath air and drink water, to raise your voices (or start typing your letter)!