Toxic Enforcement

Prop. 65 Warning Sign

As You Sow is one of the leading enforcers of California’s innovative Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, also known as Proposition 65. This consumer right-to-know law was enacted by a ballot initiative in 1986 when California voters approved it by a 2-1 margin. The initiative specifies that a company must provide a warning to consumers if its products or processes expose citizens to known carcinogens or reproductive toxicants. Proposition 65 also prohibits discharges of such chemicals into the state’s drinking water, and mandates civil penalties for violations of the law.

Since 1992, As You Sow has been working to bring hundreds of manufacturers and whole industries into compliance with Proposition 65. As You Sow encourages innovative settlements that reduce hazardous emissions, eliminate consumer exposures to toxics, and provide funds for employee training to lower occupational exposures to toxic chemicals.

Significant victories include:

  • Negotiating the elimination of carcinogen 1,4-dioxane from Procter & Gamble laundry detergents sold to families across the country
  • Creating a safer environment for millions of school kids by reducing or eliminating formaldehyde emissions from thousands of portable classrooms around California
  • Educating consumers, especially pregnant women, about the dangers of mercury in fresh swordfish, tuna, and other marine species through the development of informative warning protocols at grocery stores and fish markets
  • Reducing or eliminating lead exposure in children’s jewelry, herbal supplements, water valves, sports equipment, and other consumer products
  • Removing the use of perchloroethylene, a carcinogen, from hundreds of industrial and consumer dry cleaning businesses, especially in low income communities
  • Eliminating DEHP and other carcinogenic phthalates from a wide array of vinyl consumer products, such as electronic earbuds and book bags

Where settlements have included restitutionary funds to compensate for an unjust benefit incurred by the violator, As You Sow distributes a portion of such monies to community groups working on toxics and environmental education through our grantmaking work.