For several years, As You Sow has been researching and investigating traditional patent medicines, herbal remedies, and dietary supplements to determine whether they contain levels of heavy metals (lead, arsenic, cadmium, and mercury) in violation of California’s Proposition 65. Of particular concern are herbs and other “medicinal” remedies imported from China and other developing countries where air and water pollution can translate into serious heavy metal contamination problems in products.
To date, As You Sow has reached agreements with approximately 20 manufacturers and retailers. These agreements include adding production or supplier protocols to eliminate or reduce levels of heavy metals, providing warnings to consumers as needed, and removing significantly contaminated products from California shelves entirely.
As You Sow neither advocates nor dissuades the use of such products. As You Sow is simply trying to ensure that the products available to California consumers contain no/low levels of heavy metals or provide a warning as mandated by Proposition 65.
Additionally, however, As You Sow is concerned that many herbal supplement consumers do not know or fully understand that such products are subject to limited federal regulation and no requirements to prove safety and effectiveness before being placed into market channels. The Mayo Clinic has published information for consumers and an explanation of the federal regulatory mechanisms for ensuring product safety and effectiveness. Additional information about herbal and dietary supplements can also be found through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health.