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 (2,897 Responses)
  1. Seo Marketing Ideas

    Greetings! Very helpful advice within this article! It is the little changes that produce the greatest changes. Thanks a lot for sharing!


    May 15, 2021 at 23:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. AnooEncox

    buy viagra online using paypal http://llviagra.com/ natural viagra alternatives men

    May 15, 2021 at 23:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. avanafil

    avanafil pill avanafil stendra

    May 16, 2021 at 00:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Google Marketing Services


    May 16, 2021 at 00:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Social Media Marketing Events


    May 16, 2021 at 00:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. LebnEncox

    Aurogra overseas pharmacy no prescription Grifulvin V

    May 16, 2021 at 00:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. stornobrzinol

    Its like you read my mind! You appear to know so much about this, like you wrote the guide in it or something. I feel that you can do with a few percent to force the message home a bit, but other than that, this is wonderful blog. An excellent read. I'll certainly be back.


    May 16, 2021 at 01:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Aika Mmo

    It’s difficult to find knowledgeable people about this topic, however, you seem like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks


    May 16, 2021 at 02:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Hel Networks Aika

    I was more than happy to discover this page. I want to to thank you for your time just for this wonderful read!! I definitely savored every part of it and i also have you saved as a favorite to see new stuff in your web site.


    May 16, 2021 at 02:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Content Marketing Firms

    Very nice article. I absolutely appreciate this website. Stick with it!


    May 16, 2021 at 03:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Local Marketing Programs

    Great information. Lucky me I found your site by accident (stumbleupon). I have saved it for later!


    May 16, 2021 at 03:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Seo Marketing Orange County


    May 16, 2021 at 05:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Social Media Marketing Master


    May 16, 2021 at 06:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. 선릉안마

    Howdy! Do you know if they make any plugins to help with Search Engine Optimization? I'm trying to
    get my blog to rank for some targeted keywords but I'm not seeing very good results.
    If you know of any please share. Many thanks!

    my website; 선릉안마

    May 16, 2021 at 06:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Persona Aika

    This site definitely has all of the info I wanted concerning this subject and didn’t know who to ask.


    May 16, 2021 at 06:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Social Media Marketing Management

    May I simply say what a comfort to uncover somebody who actually understands what they are discussing online. You definitely understand how to bring a problem to light and make it important. More and more people have to check this out and understand this side of your story. I can't believe you are not more popular because you definitely have the gift.


    May 16, 2021 at 06:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. sdfcEGWYvQ

    mla research paper order woman in black essay help air pollution homework help dividing monomials homework help

    May 16, 2021 at 08:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Digital Marketing California


    May 16, 2021 at 09:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Content Marketing Near Me


    May 16, 2021 at 09:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. avana

    buy avanafil online avanafil india

    May 16, 2021 at 09:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. camper remodel supplies


    May 16, 2021 at 09:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. rv step repair parts


    May 16, 2021 at 09:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. 후불출장안마


    May 16, 2021 at 11:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. JebgEncox

    austria pharmacy online https://pharmacylo.com/ walmart pharmacy online

    May 16, 2021 at 11:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. rv collision repair


    May 16, 2021 at 11:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Eugena Allender

    Hi Chris,I was reading an article the other day about this becasue I wanted to get my younger brother into something like this. Very timely and great post with everything I needed to know. i can only imagine if something like this was legit all kids would never even go to school.Thanks for the insight.


    May 16, 2021 at 11:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. High Roof Sprinter Repair Panels

    Hi there! This blog post could not be written much better! Looking at this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He always kept preaching about this. I'll forward this information to him. Fairly certain he'll have a good read. Thank you for sharing!


    May 16, 2021 at 11:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Dodge Sprinter Fuel Injector Repair

    I really love your website.. Great colors & theme. Did you create this web site yourself? Please reply back as I’m wanting to create my own personal blog and would love to learn where you got this from or what the theme is named. Thanks!


    May 16, 2021 at 12:23 | 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

Leave a Reply to takipçi satın al


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.