October 28th, 2008
01:50 PM ET

Cancer warning labels on products: A cause for concern?

By Elizabeth Landau
CNN.com Health Writer/Producer

For several months I have enjoyed recording digital music files through my keyboard, thanks to a simple device that connects it to my laptop. But it wasn’t until recently that I discovered that the following label came with it:

WARNING: This product contains chemicals, including lead, known to the State of California to cause cancer, and birth defects or other reproductive harm. Wash hands after handling.

I freaked out. How could a set of cables attached to a small blue blinking cylinder cause cancer? The USB connector and keyboard inputs seemed harmless enough, and I hadn’t felt obvious symptoms while making music. Was I risking my life for the sake of my four-person fan base?

So I called the company, M-Audio. Apparently, manufacturers have to put this label on certain products to comply with Proposition 65, a California law that requires a warning on anything containing lead or other hazardous substances found to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm.

Under this law, whose full title is The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, warnings must be placed on products with a chemicals present in amounts larger than what the California government has decided is a “safe harbor number.”

These requirements are pretty strict. For example, for a cancer-causing chemical, according to the state’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, “a person exposed to the chemical at the ‘no significant risk level’ for 70 years would not have more than a ‘one in 100,000’ chance of developing cancer as a result of that exposure.” So, if there would be more than one excess case of cancer out of 100,000 people over a period of 70 years because of exposure to that amount of the substance, slap on that label.

It’s not just computing equipment. Amazon.com outlines for its customers required warnings for California consumers placed on tools, lead crystal glasses, ceramic tableware, jewelry, Tiffany style lamps, electrical cords, beauty products, and even motor vehicles.

The consequences for violating Proposition 65 can be pretty fierce. One Los Angeles company had to pay a $10 million fine for failing to label lead-tainted lunch boxes (they sold 100,000 of them to the state health department), the Los Angeles Times reported earlier this year.

Still, does that mean I have to wash my hands every time I touch the cord? Mark Williams, spokesperson for M-Audio, says, “No! My gosh, no!”

In general, he says, electronics products carry this label because of the materials used in circuit boards, such as lead, for example. It’s not like there’s pesticide sprayed on the surface, he says.

In fact, according to the company’s official statement on the issue, a device with a lead warning might not have any lead at all:

Even in situations where an electronics device is completely free of lead, there is always a chance that standard third-party-manufactured accessories packaged with the device (such as a power cable, USB cable, or power supply) may contain trace amounts of lead. Out of professional diligence and a commitment to fully comply with the law, M-Audio properly marks all applicable products with a Prop 65 lead warning.

Maybe people are used to seeing these labels by now. Williams said mine was the first call he’s received on the issue in his five months in media relations at the company.

So, now I will make my techno versions of acoustic indie songs in relative peace.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.

soundoff (2,993 Responses)
  1. RV Interior Remodeling Los Angeles

    Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you writing this article and the rest of the site is really good.


    May 17, 2021 at 14:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. motorhome refurbishment


    May 17, 2021 at 14:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. RV Refrigerator California


    May 17, 2021 at 14:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. RV Cabinet California

    You've made some really good points there. I checked on the net for more info about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this site.


    May 17, 2021 at 14:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. LebnEncox

    pharmacy home delivery prescription drug assistance canadian pharmacy antibiotics

    May 17, 2021 at 16:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Maserati Dealership Near Me


    May 17, 2021 at 17:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. UfNIDAgAiw

    9th grade homework help essay help university physics homework help reddit business plan lawn service

    May 17, 2021 at 17:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. motorhome repair shops near me

    Excellent article. I will be facing some of these issues as well..


    May 17, 2021 at 17:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. 부산출장홈타이


    May 17, 2021 at 17:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. 출장


    May 17, 2021 at 17:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Maserati Cambriocorsa


    May 17, 2021 at 21:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. 먹튀

    Hi, I do think your site might be having web browser compatibility issues. Whenever I take a look at your web site in Safari, it looks fine however when opening in I.E., it has some overlapping issues. I just wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Other than that, fantastic blog!


    May 17, 2021 at 21:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Maserati Houston

    This page truly has all the information I wanted concerning this subject and didn’t know who to ask.


    May 17, 2021 at 22:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Cupids Health

    Are you protected from government over reach?

    Click here to learn more...

    May 18, 2021 at 00:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. travel trailer frame repair


    May 18, 2021 at 01:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. GtnbCrulk

    non prescription viagra alternative http://jokviagra.com/ – viagra prescription instant natural viagra

    May 18, 2021 at 01:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. 토토사이트

    Hello there! I could have sworn Iíve been to this website before but after looking at a few of the posts I realized itís new to me. Regardless, Iím certainly happy I found it and Iíll be book-marking it and checking back regularly!


    May 18, 2021 at 02:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. esurance repair shops

    I really like reading a post that will make men and women think. Also, thank you for allowing me to comment!


    May 18, 2021 at 03:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. RebfZisse

    what is more effective,cialis or viagra? https://rcialisgl.com/ cialis without a pescripton

    May 18, 2021 at 03:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. 양산출장마사지

    I blog quite often and I genuinely thank you for your content. This article has truly peaked my interest. I will book mark your blog and keep checking for new information about once per week. I opted in for your RSS feed too.


    May 18, 2021 at 03:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. 창원출장안마


    May 18, 2021 at 03:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. progressive repair shop

    You should take part in a contest for one of the most useful sites on the net. I am going to highly recommend this website!


    May 18, 2021 at 04:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. 소액결제 현금화


    May 18, 2021 at 04:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. vinyl repair near me

    Hi there, I do think your website might be having internet browser compatibility issues. Whenever I look at your web site in Safari, it looks fine however, when opening in Internet Explorer, it's got some overlapping issues. I simply wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Other than that, wonderful website!


    May 18, 2021 at 04:48 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60

Leave a Reply to https://www.shinsen-mart.com


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.