prop65collageIf you spend much time in California, you’re probably used to seeing warning signs about Proposition 65. They’re on display at restaurants, banks, gas stations, grocery stores, even Disneyland. But why is there a proposition 65 warning on some Redmond products?

What is Proposition 65?

In spirit, prop 65 is a great idea: California lawmakers decided the public needs to know if their water  supply contains toxic chemicals. So they compiled a list of 900 substances and required any business using the substances to proclaim the use publicly. (We’ve oversimplified things a bit. There’s more to it, of course, which you can get right from the source.)

So my bank, and Disneyland, are… toxic?

No. Well, maybe. The way prop 65 is enforced has created a defensive business strategy: infringements can cost businesses $2,500 per day, and nearly all cases are reported by citizens motivated to earn as much as 25% of that fee by “blowing the whistle,” as it were. These cases are handled in civil lawsuits, which are themselves quite expensive, with nearly all the award going to attorneys. Since there is no penalty for a business who warns customers about prop 65 chemicals even when none are in use, proposition 65 warning signs have become a hallmark of the California lifestyle.

So when you see a prop 65 warning sign, the business might be using toxic chemicals, or they simply might have decided it’s cheaper to hang a few signs than fight the civil lawsuits that prop 65 law firms might bring. It’s an unintended consequence of a law that has probably done a lot of good to protect California residents–while creating a new legal specialty (and steady business for sign-makers) across the state.

What about natural products?

The really interesting thing about proposition 65 is that many fruits and vegetables would be included in the ban as written by California legislators.  For example, carrots and green beans both contain more than twenty times the legal limit of arsenic, as defined by the proposition. (Other offenders include yams, apples, tomatoes, artichokes, cucumbers, lettuce, spinach and potatoes.) A compromise was reached to spare natural products from conforming to prop 65 standards: if the product is completely natural, businesses don’t have to report the otherwise banned substance.

So Redmond products contain lead?

Peaches, pears, brussels sprouts, nuts, spinach–and dozens of other natural products, including Redmond Clay–contain the tiniest bit of naturally-occurring lead, which is on the prop 65 list. Like these and other natural products, we believe Redmond Clay falls under the exempted products definition, but we’re pretty cautious around here, and not terribly interested in defending civil action by prop 65 watchdogs hoping for a settlement or share of daily fines. So we changed some packaging.

We know the language on proposition 65 warnings is pretty heavy, but we wouldn’t sell any product if we weren’t completely satisfied by its safety. Like so many other companies, we’ve decided it’s simpler to change our packaging than worry about possible complications down the line. Fortunately, like so many other customers, you probably see so many prop 65 warning labels that you already understand our reasons. If you didn’t, we hope you do now!

More information

As you research the healthfulness of Redmond Clay and Earthpaste, you’ll probably ask familiar questions. Here’s a list of articles you’ll probably appreciate, and if we left anything out, please get in touch!