Proposition 65 was passed in 1986 as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act. It is portion of the California Health and Safety Code, which requires disclosure to California consumers of exposures to certain chemicals listed by the State of California. The State of California is required, through Prop 65, to publish and maintain a list of chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm.
Any product sold in California that exposes a consumer to one of the over 800 substances that have been detailed in Prop 65, needs to be labeled with a warning. I remember when I first moved to California and would be walking around Cost Plus World Market or Pier 1 Imports; I would see Prop 65 warning labels throughout the store and especially near some of the dishes. As I had learned in Naturopathic School that lead and heavy metals can be found in the dishes that we use in our homes; it made sense to me that these dishes were being labeled by Prop 65.
As I have continued to live here in California, I have noticed the Prop 65 labels showing up in Starbucks and other restaurants. I then began to worry about Prop 65 labels showing up on the food-based supplements I was ordering for use for myself and with my patients.. Thanks to the great nutraceutical representatives that I work with, I knew the supplement labels were coming, but it was still a shock to see it on the supplements.
As a result of the Prop 65 labels showing up on the supplements I am taking, I needed to do more research about this proposition. What levels of these over 800 chemicals needed to be found in a product for it to get a label? Food has been found to have heavy metals as it is grown in the ground, which naturally has heavy metals along with the extras that have been added as a result of industrialization.
According to Douglas Labs, one of the nutraceutical companies that I often use, (taken from their website www.douglaslabs.com)
"It is important to read product warnings; however the presence of a Prop 65 warning does not mean that a product is harmful. For many substances on the list, Prop 65 limits, that require the need for a warning, are very stringent and do not correlate with limits put forth by other regulatory bodies including both the FDA and the WHO. For example, the level that requires a warning for reproductive toxicants is 1000 times lower than the lowest level at which animal studies reported no reproductive health effect. For example, the Prop 65 standard for warnings for lead is 0.5 micrograms per day, which is far more stringent than federal and international standards for lead. The FDA has set recommendations for what it considers safe and tolerable daily intakes and has determined what is termed the provisional total tolerable intake level (PTTI). The PTTI for lead in children under the age of 6 years old is 6 micrograms/day, or 12 times the amount requiring a warning in California. The PTTI for pregnant women has been determined to be 25 micrograms/day, or 50 times the amount requiring a warning in California. The PTTI for adults has been set at 75 micrograms/day, or 150 times the amount requiring a warning in California."
Thus, when you see a Prop 65 label on your supplements, out at restaurants, or in stores; remember that the amount of the chemical that requires a label may be well below what is consider safe by the WHO and FDA. As of now not all supplements, that have similar ingredients, carry the Prop 65 warning as several companies have ongoing litigation. Therefore, the lack of warning does not mean that it is a safer product. If you have concerns about the supplements that Dr. Larrow has you on, please give her a call (415) 912-9934.