Complying with CA's Prop 65

by Tawny Reynolds || February 09 2010
self-watering container pic
Example of a Prop 65 warning label
Recently, a California store expressed interest in carrying Sundrops if we could say our jewelry complies with the state’sProposition 65 (the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986). Prop 65 lists twenty-one pages of chemicals known to cause cancer, and is the reason for the tags you sometimes see on appliance cords and many other things.

The Good News

Lead was the easy one; most items are labeled if they contain lead. Figuring out whether any of the other myriad of proscribed chemicals were present was much more difficult. I spent a few solid days searching the internet, sending emails to the makers of materials we use, and chatting online with the primary middleman from whom we purchase most of our jewelry findings (ear hooks, wire, necklace cord, etc) to get either the list of materials in each item or the maker’s declaration that the item complies with Prop 65. However, I can now happily say that all of our jewelry findings are in compliance with Prop. 65. This does not necessarily mean that they contain no chemicals listed in those 21 pages, it just means that any of those chemicals are present in low enough concentrations to not require a warning label.

That list, by the way? It was rather less helpful than it could be – it doesn’t list what the allowable levels are for each chemical, which was irritating to me from two perspectives:
  • as a business owner, it was very difficult to determine whether my product is allowable
  • as a person wanting to be protected from these chemicals, I don’t know what levels are considered safe

The Bad News

While our jewelry findings are clean, not all of our glass is. Two of the roughly 20 colors of stained glass we have used contain lead. Lead in glass jewelry is not actually a health hazard to those wearing the jewelry (lead in glass can’t leach the way metallic lead can), although it still has to carry the warning label. The potential health hazard is for us, the people melting the glass. Although the lead is trapped inside the glass when solid, melting releases toxic lead fumes. Even though our glass melting takes place in a well-ventilated space (i.e. outside – concentrated sunlight, remember? :) ) we’d rather not expose ourselves to that. We are discontinuing making these two colors immediately, and will not be shipping them to any stores carrying our jewelry. The remainder of these colors will be sold through our webstore with the appropriate legal warning.

So, our jewelry (except those two discontinued colors) is in compliance with Prop 65, and I’ll be trying out some new lead-free glass colors as soon as the weather improves.