California Antitoxics Law Cited in Nationwide Efforts
A San Francisco-based environmental health group is using California's Proposition 65 as part of a national campaign to pressure manufacturers into removing lead and other chemicals from their products, the Washington Post reports.
The Center for Environmental Health has threatened to bring hundreds of lawsuits under Proposition 65, a California law that requires warning labels for products found to contain chemicals that can cause cancer or birth defects.
Charles Margulis, a CEH spokesperson, said although the law only applies in California, the state's market is large enough that it often can pressure companies to make the changes nationwide.
Lead in children's products is a particular concern for the group, but it also has pursued cases involving arsenic and phthalates, a chemical additive used to make plastics more pliable.
Some manufacturers and government regulators criticize the group for using different standards in its analyses of products than industry or federal officials use, arguing that the tests can spark unmerited concern among consumers.
Moreover, opponents of CEH have said it uses Proposition 65 to act as a bounty hunter because the California law permits groups that bring suits under it to collect fees from offenders.
Margulis says that on average 25% to 30% of the group's budget comes from litigation (Shin, Washington Post, 11/10).