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USA California Proposition 65: latest updates on notices of violation relating to chromium 6 in leather goods

Posted in Innocuousness on 2021-06-16 by CTC
As a right-to-know law, California Proposition 65 ("Prop65") requires businesses to provide "a clear and reasonable warning" to Californian consumers about significant exposures to chemicals listed in Prop65 at a level that may cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm.

Failure to comply with this warning requirement may result in the notification of a notice of violation ("60-day Notice of Violation", or "NOV") followed by a lengthy and costly Prop65 lawsuit. These lawsuits can end with settlements or court judgments which require to reformulate the concerned consumer products to meet maximum concentration limits, or to provide a warning label for those products.

Since 2019, numerous lawsuits have targeted hexavalent chromium (chromium 6) in leather articles: for this substance, CTC has so far identified more than 60 cases initiated against businesses selling different types of leather articles, mostly gloves (85%) and shoes (10%).

Since March 2021, 8 new notices of violation (NOV) for chrome 6 in gloves have been issued, a complaint has been filed (gloves), and 5 have resulted in settlements. Overall, 12 settlements were signed with the following conclusions:

  • 11 settlements for leather gloves require the offending businesses to provide "a clear and reasonable warning" to their leather articles to alert consumers to the risk of exposure to chromium 6;
  • 1 settlement requires that any footwear distributed by the offending group, Tommy Bahama Group, contains chrome-free leather in order to be placed on the Californian market (procedure n°2019-01258).

This is the first time that such a reformulation is required in a settlement under California Proposition 65. In this settlement (direct link), "chrome-free leather" means “leather that:

(a) was not at any point in the production process treated or tanned with chromium based tannins, including but not limited to chromium sulfate;

(b) was not otherwise treated, dyed or exposed to chemicals that contain chromium as an intended ingredient; and

(c) was not produced in tanneries that have material residual chromium contamination; and

(d) has extractable chromium of less than 2 part per million by weight when tested pursuant to ISO 17072-1 or a successor ISO standard that measures extractable total chromium”.

 

No Prop65 lawsuit has yet resulted in the definition of a threshold limit for chromium 6 in leathers.

 

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