Proposition 65 is officially known as The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, and is specific to California, which generally has standards that are stricter than the US government, as well as any other state. California is big business, with the highest population of any individual state. In order to sell within its borders, if a product contains any of the approximately 900 chemicals on the list, it must contain this warning: “This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm.”
For DHP products, a Prop 65 warning label indicates the use of formaldehyde, which is present within the glues and resins used to transform wood chips and shavings into composite wood products. Only those models that contain hardwood plywood (HWPW), particleboard (PB), or medium-density fiberboard (MDF) will include the warning, and products will also be labeled as TSCA and CARB compliant.
Formaldehyde and several other chemicals on the Prop 65 list will specify a safe harbor level, which measures exposure. What this means is that while formaldehyde is a known carcinogen, the levels present within composite wood products are set at low levels intended to protect public health, though any effects may be greater in individuals with sensitivities.
Formaldehyde levels within an item continue to dissipate with time and proper ventilation. If there are concerns regarding exposure, placing the item in a garage or other open area for a few days will help.
Many cosmetics, medications, household items, foods, and beverages, as well as businesses and services found in California sport a Prop 65 warning. To avoid every product and business with this warning would be an undertaking, but a complete list can be found here.
For links to the Prop 65 website, or for more information and resources, click on the following topics: