Just add methanol: updated California Prop 65 list
March 19, 2012
California's chemical law known as Proposition 65 requires the State of California to publish a list of chemicals known to cause cancer or birth defects or other reproductive harm. The Prop 65 list was first published in 1987. The list must by its own law be updated regularly with new chemicals.
The list below was updated on March 16, 2012 and can be viewed and downloaded at bottom of this page. The latest chemical added is methanol. Human health effects associated with breathing or otherwise consuming smaller amounts of methanol over long periods of time are not known. For instance, workers repeatedly exposed to methanol have experienced several adverse effects. Effects range from headaches to sleep disorders and gastrointestinal problems to optic nerve damage. Laboratory studies show that repeat exposure to large amounts of methanol in air or in drinking water cause similar adverse effects in animals.
Methanol by itself is not likely to cause environmental harm at levels normally found in the environment. But methanol can contribute to the formation of photochemical smog when it reacts with other volatile organic carbon substances in air, for instance. One recent Italian paper suggests that the alcohol-drinking population will have higher levels of MeOH's neurotoxic metabolite, formic acid (FA). Similar studies have been written up.
Got warning labels? You may not need any. The Prop 65 statute states that “no person in the course of doing business shall knowingly and intentionally expose any individual to a chemical known to the state (California) to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity without first giving a clear and reasonable warning…”
Based upon a company's knowledge of business operations and chemicals used, review the Proposition 65 list to determine which chemicals would likely be involved in exposures to individuals. Businesses are responsible for providing clear and reasonable warnings. But there is reasonable wiggle room, as you can see.
About Prop 65 Now, included on the Prop 65 list are seemingly benign substances, such as alcohol and aspirin. Alcohol makes the list because it obviously can be toxic in sufficient amounts, even cancer-causing. Aspirin makes the list because it has been shown to cause reproductive harm in fetuses if ingested by women in advanced stages of pregnancy.
So, not all 800 chemicals on the Prop 65 list should be avoided at all costs (and in some cases they might save your life, as with aspirin to thin the blood, or, arguably, alcohol to get through the silliness of St. Patrick's Day...). The Prop 65 list seeks to publish the identity of every chemical that can be a danger.
More information There's more information about Proposition 65 here from a previous blog post. You can also contact OEHHA's Proposition 65 program at (916) 445-6900, or visit http://www.oehha.ca.gov/prop65.html. Also, you may be interested in the EPA page for methanol.
Download or print the list of chemicals on California's Prop 65 list, no registration required. Be advised there are 23 pages of this list, below is a snapshot of just the first page. This list was updated on March 17, 2012.
Contact Actio if you have questions about software for managing compliance with this regulation.