Proposition 65: A Trial Lawyer’s Gift Which Keeps on Giving

Years ago the junk scientists getting government grants told us that drinking soda would cause cancer, if you drank too much.  How much was too much?  Seven cans a day for seven YEARS.  You would float away and drown before you developed cancer.  We were told that artificial sugar would create cancer and alar on apples would create cancer—all lies.  These scientists have left that field, now telling us, in exchange for government grants Kansas will be beachfront property is we don’t stop global warming and climate change.

Then you have the fraud of Prop. 65—created years ago by Tom Hayden.  Go into a grocery store that sells cigarettes you could develop cancer—because that is what the Prop. 65 sign says—based on silly junk science.  The winner of the Prop. 65 lottery are the attorneys.  Fail to put up a Prop. 65 scaring people with non-scientific statements and you could $100,000.

“Prop 65 seems benevolent on its surface—a “right to know” law informing about the presence of certain dangerous chemicals. But a combination of low thresholds for probable public safety risk and enforcement by litigation have made the law counterproductive.

For instance, any reasonable parent wouldn’t want to use a product which bears a “WARNING: This product can expose you to chemicals including Di-n-propyl Isocinchomeronate, which is known to the State of California to cause cancer.” The chemical here, Di-n-propyl Isocinchomeronate, is present in insect repellant, but unless you’re scrubbing down your child in a bathtub of the stuff, their risk of developing cancer from exposure is about nil. But such warnings are exactly what the new regulation requires.”

Government is not making your safer, it is making you poorer and stupid.

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Proposition 65: A Trial Lawyer’s Gift Which Keeps on Giving

By. Joseph Perrone, Sc.D., 9/20/16

 

This month, California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) issued new regulations that make it even easier to target businesses with frivolous lawsuits.

Its adoption of Article 6 updates the state’s Proposition 65 (the 1986 law, not the plastic bag ban on the ballot this November) requiring employers who do business in the state to issue warning labels on products or places of operation that contain a chemical from a list “known to the State of California to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm.”

The new regulations require the use of more sinister warning labels that include a hazard symbol and the name of the unnervingly unfamiliar chemical used in the product.

Prop 65 seems benevolent on its surface—a “right to know” law informing about the presence of certain dangerous chemicals. But a combination of low thresholds for probable public safety risk and enforcement by litigation have made the law counterproductive.

For instance, any reasonable parent wouldn’t want to use a product which bears a “WARNING: This product can expose you to chemicals including Di-n-propyl Isocinchomeronate, which is known to the State of California to cause cancer.” The chemical here, Di-n-propyl Isocinchomeronate, is present in insect repellant, but unless you’re scrubbing down your child in a bathtub of the stuff, their risk of developing cancer from exposure is about nil. But such warnings are exactly what the new regulation requires.

OEHHA’s threshold for labeling a chemical as a carcinogen or reproductive toxin is unjustifiably low. The list has consequently ballooned to include over 900 materials, most of which aren’t recognized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as causing any real harm as generally used.

Prop 65’s new requirements up the “scare factor” without communicating risk in any meaningful fashion. In adopting the amendment, the agency neglected a fundamental principle of toxicology: The dose makes the poison. People can die from consuming too much caffeine, or even too much water. The mere presence of a chemical does not mean that it will cause harm.

Although the “right-to-know” law was championed as a means of ensuring California had safe drinking water (something we all support), it was written in such a manner that trial lawyers, not the water-consuming public, have become its true beneficiaries.

Prop 65 is enforced by bounty-hunting litigants and trial lawyers looking to cash in. These litigants have taken to scouring the shelves for unlabeled products that could theoretically contain any one of the substances on Prop 65’s list, and then sending threatening letters to businesses across the country. With the law’s burden of proof so low, and the cost of laboratory testing and court hearings so high, most businesses elect to settle out of court. Some regular litigants have earned themselves a six-figure salary filing Prop 65 lawsuits alone.

 

As business owners have become savvy to the tactic, many have elected to post the signs ubiquitously. But with OEHHA’s new ruling, a generic label will not be enough. And lawyers know this. When the regulation takes effect, the litigation floodgates will open further a s opportunists look to sue companies using warning labels that aren’t quite scary enough. Lawyers get richer, businesses get poorer, and consumers face a deluge of warnings on everything from garden gloves to golf head covers.

Instead of adding a new amendment to make Prop 65 even more counterproductive, OEHHA should reform it so that it only applies to products that actually carry a verifiable health risk.

Dr. Joseph Perrone is chief science officer at the Center for Accountability in Science.

 

About Stephen Frank

Stephen Frank is the publisher and editor of California Political News and Views. He speaks all over California and appears as a guest on several radio shows each week. He has also served as a guest host on radio talk shows. He is a fulltime political consultant.

Comments

  1. Question.

    A law that was passed can be amended without going to the public for a vote?

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