proposition 65 warning labelsThe California Proposition 65 warning label is popping up on everything from play sand to clothing. As a mom, should you be concerned about the cancer warning?

**Disclosure: All opinions in this post are my own. There may be affiliate links. When you make a purchase through one of the affiliates, you support Consumer News Mom’s ongoing efforts to keep you informed on consumer and parenting issues.

Prop 65 clothing cancer warning

Proposition 65 has been around since the 1986 and aims to alert consumers to certain chemicals in products. The state of California publishes a list of chemicals that can cause health issues. The list includes natural and synthetic chemicals like additives, dyes, and solvents. There are 900 chemicals on the Proposition 65 list. So you can imagine why so many products have this warning label.

As a new mom, I am more aware of the products I use in my home, put on my child, and use on my own body. I almost missed a big warning on a shirt I bought. The Prop 65 warning is in fine print on the back of the clothing tag. I just happened to take a closer look at the tag, and saw it. I almost missed it.

The warning alarmed me. Why would I knowingly want to wear a shirt with dangerous chemicals in it that could cause cancer? Some argue the chemicals really won’t harm you in such small quantities. However, as a consumer, I am not going to knowingly buy and wear a product that uses chemicals on the Prop 65 list. I don’t care how small a risk it is.

The fashion industry is aware of the consumer backlash. The California Fashion Association writes on its site that Prop 65, “continues to be a scourge of the fashion industry.” The industry is trying to reform the law.

cancer in the sandboxProp 65 play sand warning – cancer in the sandbox?

The warning label is in other alarming spots too. It’s also on play sand for sandboxes. Once again, it makes no sense to me and the mom who contacted me about it.

You might look the other way when you see the warning on electrical wires since you’re not putting those in your mouth. I wash my hands after touching products that I know contain the chemicals like Christmas lights. However, sand for a child’s play area? You know the child is going to eat some of the sand. Even if they don’t eat the sand, their hands are in the sand with these chemicals. Eventually, those hands will make their way to the child’s mouth or face. Why take that risk?

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Crytalline silica (quartz) is in play sand, and there are risks associated with it. Some argue the risk factor is only there if you’re working with the product and inhaling the dust. Regardless, the crystalline silica prompts the Prop 65 warning on play sand.

The manufacturers feel consumers have nothing to worry about. They say the risk is only there when exposed to the chemicals in large quantities like a miner. However, the potential danger of crystalline silica is still on parents minds.

One parent asks on Home Depot’s website, “Is this sand non-toxic?” Quikrete writes back,

“QUIKRETE Play Sand has been washed and dried, and is intended for use primarily in Sand Boxes. The only material in QUIKRETE Play Sand is natural sand – the same as you find on the beach or in river beds. We have safely sold QUIKRETE Play Sand for decades. Like any sand, it may contain some fine particles. You can be confident using QUIKRETE Play Sand; it is washed and dried 100% natural sand.”

Non-toxic play sand

The warnings have also led to chemical, toxin, and cancer free products like Sandtastik and Safe Sand.

It’s a smaller niche, and these products are pricier than their cancer causing counterparts. For example, Safe Sand is one of the sandbox alternatives that advertises its toxic free. The cost is $$ for 25 pounds of play sand. In comparison, you can buy 50 pounds of Quikrete play sand at Home Depot, and the price is $.

The products get good reviews. However, some parents say the so-called safe sand is dusty. It’s suggested that you wet down the sand before playing with it. However, you need to be careful because mold can grow.

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Sandtastik makes another product that’s labeled as indoor therapy play sand. This is supposed to have less dust. It’s the same price as the regular 25 pound bag. $$

It’s significantly more expensive for non-toxic play sand, but there’s obviously a market for it. A price worth paying for some parents.

You can try out the sand by purchasing a small quantity. Sandtastik offers a 2 pound bag for $. A small investment to find out if it’s worth the price to fill the whole sandbox. However, you are paying a lot per pound. It’s cheaper to buy the 25 pounds at once.

Are you willing to pay the higher price for safe sand? What do you use in your sandbox? Comment below or on Facebook.

Price Guide: $ 0-20
$$ 21-50

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Prop 65 backlash

Lawsuits may be the reason we are seeing so many Prop 65 warning labels on clothing and play sand. There is always an industry looking to make a buck off a law. It happens with Prop 65, and it happens with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Both laws aim to help people. However, there are serial plaintiffs looking to make money.

With the ADA, lawyers target small businesses who do not have ADA upgrades. Granted the sued businesses have ADA compliance issues but is a lawsuit the answer? Many of the businesses will tell you the ADA tester is not a regular customer. He or she visited the store for the sole purpose of scoping out problems for a lawsuit. Many businesses feel they should have a window to make the ADA upgrades.

Just like the ADA, Proposition 65 is a law that serves a good purpose. However, there are lots of lawsuits. Are lawyers exploiting the law? I’m not here to debate that, but there’s no doubt the legal issues are driving some of these warning labels.

When there are lots of lawsuits, there are usually calls for reform. While there is a push to reform Prop 65, until that happens, expect to see warning labels in more places.

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clothing cancer warningWarning label fatigue?

Typically, there is consumer fatigue when a warning is constantly in your face. For example, product recalls are non-stop. So much so, that the dangerous Takata airbag recall is ignored by many drivers. It doesn’t matter that it’s the largest recall in U.S. history. It’s called recall fatigue. People begin to tune out the warnings.

With Prop 65, there is that risk as the warnings appear on more products. I ignore the warnings on electrical wiring or lights. I never thought twice about the warning until it appeared on my clothing.

As a mom, the Prop 65 warning labels do change my buying decisions. This happens especially with products my child will use.

I also put weight into the warning when my body will be in contact with a product for an extended period of time. For example, I may only touch electrical wires once every few months. There’s action I can take to get rid of the chemicals from my hands. So, I’ll buy electrical products with the Prop 65 warning label.

I wear a shirt for 8 hours a day. While I can take a shower after wearing it, 8 hours versus 5 seconds, is a big exposure difference.

The cancer-causing substances are naturally in some products. In other cases, the manufacturers add them when they add dyes to products. Either way, it’s a warning you need to look for when shopping especially with children’s products. After all, everything goes in their mouth.

These Proposition 65 warning labels are everywhere, but some may easily pass you by unless you look for it.

Does the Prop 65 warning impact your buying decisions? Share your thoughts below in the comments or on Facebook.