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 (5,892 Responses)
  1. Felicidad Tesch

    consider you can sees there


    August 25, 2021 at 13:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Lucas Sugar

    vendor of pharm


    September 18, 2021 at 22:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bella Johnson

      it’s AWESOME!!,!..I was cured from herpes……………………………….

      Sure Treatment!!

      Please contact:Email hsv1.herpes (@) gmail…com

      Thank YOU

      August 11, 2022 at 08:42 | Report abuse |
  3. Michel Bergum

    I actually the blog, My partner and i seriously hope that your website the rapid increase in site visitors occurrence, which help encourage your blog and all of us trust that your blog is being up-to-date.


    September 29, 2021 at 01:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. hvac fayetteville nc

    Impressive! Thanks for the post


    October 23, 2021 at 21:50 | Report abuse | Reply

    What if this label is on a food product... Should I be scared to eat it?

    January 4, 2022 at 16:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. zoritoler imol

    so much excellent information on here, : D.


    February 27, 2022 at 04:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Raleigh Bashir

    T1000s Effects – LedEdit Effects Download Free Led Edit 2014 Download


    April 12, 2022 at 21:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Britt Kuchto

    T1000s Effects – LedEdit Effects Download Free Led Edit 2014 Download


    April 12, 2022 at 22:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Angelo Bondoc

    Thanks for sharing excellent informations. Your site is so cool. I am impressed by the details that you've on this site. It reveals how nicely you perceive this subject. Bookmarked this website page, will come back for more articles. You, my pal, ROCK! I found simply the info I already searched all over the place and just could not come across. What a perfect web-site.


    April 17, 2022 at 08:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. politicadeverdade.com

    https://politicadeverdade.com/ We will see the final findings that will come out this week," he said. Lee Hyun-joong was recently diagnosed with injuries to his left ankle and ligaments during a workout with the NBA club, which took

    July 9, 2022 at 12:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. major-site

    https://politicadeverdade.com/major-site/ Changwon LG has completed the contract with Asem Maray. Maray showed his strong presence last season with active defense and hustle play. He played an average of 30 minutes and 54 seconds in

    July 9, 2022 at 12:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. mtgeomjung

    https://politicadeverdade.com/mtgeomjung/ Maray said, "I'm happy to meet Changwon fans again, and I'm looking forward to new coaching steps and the upcoming season." After the end of the season, LG held talks with Maray on renewing

    July 9, 2022 at 12:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. anjeonnaratoto.com

    https://anjeonnaratoto.com/ Busan National University, which played at home for the first time in a long time, beat Gwangju University 70-60 in the fourth quarter thanks to Park In-ah and Lee Kyung-eun's performance.

    July 9, 2022 at 12:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. anjeonnaratoto.com

    https://anjeonnaratoto.com/ Busan National University, which recorded its sixth win and ranked second alone, succeeded in avenging its defeat in the Gwangju away match. Busan National University raises the decibel of the

    July 9, 2022 at 12:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. scottchasserot.com

    https://scottchasserot.com/ "The way we play is changing, but our individual abilities are not changing. As women's volleyball plays faster and faster, rear attacks sometimes decrease, he said. "It is important to continue to make

    July 10, 2022 at 15:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. nakedemperornews.com

    https://nakedemperornews.com/ Lee Sun-woo, who played well as the national team light, was unable to finish the tournament due to an injury. Lee Sun-woo suffered an ankle injury in the third set of the 2022 FIVB VNL match against

    July 10, 2022 at 15:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. nyrthos.com

    https://nyrthos.com/ Eventually, he is on his way home. The national team is currently training in Warsaw, Poland, during the break period. During this period, setter Ahn Hye-jin also joined the national team. Lee Sun

    July 10, 2022 at 15:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. totosinsa.com

    https://www.totosinsa.com/ International Airport on the 25th. After that, he will concentrate on precision medical check and rehabilitation treatment. Surgery is not necessary. It is expected to be at least two to four weeks before

    July 10, 2022 at 15:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Hulu activate

    Good post. I research new commodity and grueling on spots I stumble upon everyday.It’s continually beneficial to study blogs from different authors and exercising commodity from different websites.

    August 5, 2022 at 03:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. m.ubersear.ch

    Do you know what is m.ubersear.ch and what are it's advantage?If no! then innovativehub will provide every information about it .Visit our website to know more


    September 12, 2022 at 01:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. dachiwife



    ラブドール 即納

    衣装 ラブドール

    競泳水着 ラブドール

    November 16, 2022 at 06:52 | 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 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118

Leave a Reply to Anthony Dietrich


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.