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. dapoxetine

    dapoxetine pills for sale buy avanafil

    May 6, 2021 at 19:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Anthony Scott Dietrich Gainesville VA

    Pretty! This was an incredibly wonderful article. Many thanks for supplying these details.


    May 6, 2021 at 20:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Anthony Dietrich Gainesville VA

    Excellent post! We are linking to this particularly great content on our website. Keep up the great writing.


    May 6, 2021 at 20:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. star shopping

    I do trust all of the ideas you have presented on your post. They're really convincing and will definitely work. Nonetheless, the posts are very brief for beginners. Could you please extend them a bit from next time? Thanks for the post.|


    May 6, 2021 at 21:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Tony Scott Dietrich Gainesville VA

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


    May 6, 2021 at 22:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. 먹튀검증

    Next time I read a blog, I hope that it won't fail me as much as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read through, however I actually believed you'd have something helpful to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of moaning about something you could fix if you were not too busy looking for attention.


    May 6, 2021 at 22:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. AnooEncox

    can diabetic take viagra http://llviagra.com/ viagra extended use

    May 6, 2021 at 22:25 | Report abuse | Reply

    advantages and disadvantages of not doing homework volunteer community service essay benefits of doing a thesis doing homework is good for you

    May 6, 2021 at 22:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. 먹튀검증

    You are so awesome! I do not believe I've truly read through a single thing like this before. So great to discover somebody with a few genuine thoughts on this topic. Really.. thanks for starting this up. This website is one thing that's needed on the web, someone with some originality!


    May 6, 2021 at 23:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Forklift Rental Orange County


    May 7, 2021 at 00:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. buy aralen

    drug chloroquine https://chloroquineorigin.com/ chlorodine

    May 7, 2021 at 01:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Forklift Tires Los Angeles


    May 7, 2021 at 03:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. discount tire near me

    I would like to thank you for the efforts you've put in penning this blog. I am hoping to view the same high-grade content from you in the future as well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has inspired me to get my very own blog now 😉


    May 7, 2021 at 04:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. sprint near me

    Having read this I believed it was rather informative. I appreciate you spending some time and energy to put this content together. I once again find myself personally spending a significant amount of time both reading and posting comments. But so what, it was still worth it!


    May 7, 2021 at 04:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. marco's pizza near me


    May 7, 2021 at 04:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Forklift Maintenance


    May 7, 2021 at 06:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. rv supplies near me

    You have made some really good points there. I checked on the internet to learn more about the issue and found most individuals will go along with your views on this site.


    May 7, 2021 at 06:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. rv slide out water damage repair


    May 7, 2021 at 06:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Forklift Repair Shop Near Me


    May 7, 2021 at 06:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. rv shower repair

    Howdy! I could have sworn I’ve visited this web site before but after browsing through some of the posts I realized it’s new to me. Anyways, I’m certainly delighted I discovered it and I’ll be book-marking it and checking back regularly!


    May 7, 2021 at 06:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. car wraps orange county

    You're so interesting! I do not believe I've truly read a single thing like this before. So wonderful to find another person with a few unique thoughts on this topic. Really.. many thanks for starting this up. This web site is one thing that's needed on the internet, someone with a bit of originality!


    May 7, 2021 at 06:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Forklift Cylinders California

    Spot on with this write-up, I actually feel this amazing site needs a great deal more attention. I’ll probably be back again to read more, thanks for the info!


    May 7, 2021 at 08:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Price Of Kegs Of Beer

    After I originally commented I appear to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on whenever a comment is added I get four emails with the same comment. Perhaps there is an easy method you are able to remove me from that service? Thank you!


    May 7, 2021 at 08:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Forklift For Sale Near Me


    May 7, 2021 at 08:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Forklift Rental


    May 7, 2021 at 08:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Forklift Parts Orange County


    May 7, 2021 at 08:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Brewing Classes Near Me

    Pretty! This has been an incredibly wonderful article. Thanks for providing these details.


    May 7, 2021 at 08:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. private driver

    I am sure this piece of writing has touched all the internet people, its really really good paragraph on building up new website.

    Feel free to visit my web site :: private driver

    May 7, 2021 at 08:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Used Forklift Cylinders California

    I used to be able to find good info from your articles.


    May 7, 2021 at 09:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Forklift Repair Shop Los Angeles


    May 7, 2021 at 09:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Big Liquor Stores

    Aw, this was an exceptionally good post. Taking a few minutes and actual effort to generate a superb article… but what can I say… I procrastinate a whole lot and don't manage to get nearly anything done.


    May 7, 2021 at 09:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. New Forklift Service California


    May 7, 2021 at 09:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Forklift Maintenance

    I enjoy looking through an article that will make people think. Also, many thanks for allowing me to comment!


    May 7, 2021 at 09:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Places That Sell Kegs Near Me

    Your style is so unique in comparison to other people I've read stuff from. Thank you for posting when you've got the opportunity, Guess I will just bookmark this site.


    May 7, 2021 at 09:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Forklift Maintenance Shop Near Me

    Excellent blog post. I absolutely love this site. Keep writing!


    May 7, 2021 at 09:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. JebgEncox

    Plendil erectile dysfunction treatment prescription drugs from canada

    May 7, 2021 at 10:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. 먹튀

    This blog was... how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something that helped me. Thanks a lot!


    May 7, 2021 at 11:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. New Forklift Repair Shop California


    May 7, 2021 at 13:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. furniture stores near me

    Good post. I learn something totally new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon every day. It will always be helpful to read articles from other writers and practice a little something from other websites.


    May 7, 2021 at 15:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. tool rental near me


    May 7, 2021 at 15:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Used Forklift Rental California

    It’s nearly impossible to find educated people about this subject, however, you seem like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks


    May 7, 2021 at 15:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. tepJnqfQsl

    cv writing service gloucestershire buy essay online login buy to let mortgage business plan accounting coursework help

    May 7, 2021 at 15:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. buy adderall

    Hi to every one, as I am truly keen of reading this webpage's post to be updated on a regular basis.
    It carries good material.

    May 7, 2021 at 17:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. locksmith near me


    May 7, 2021 at 18:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Forklift Tires


    May 7, 2021 at 18:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. fabrication near me

    An impressive share! I have just forwarded this onto a coworker who was doing a little research on this. And he actually ordered me breakfast simply because I discovered it for him... lol. So let me reword this.... Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending the time to discuss this issue here on your internet site.


    May 7, 2021 at 19:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. camper body repair


    May 7, 2021 at 19:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. FmrfEncox

    black cialis http://cialisee.com/ cialis for daily use cost

    May 7, 2021 at 20:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. van conversions orange county ca

    An intriguing discussion is definitely worth comment. I think that you need to publish more about this topic, it may not be a taboo matter but usually people don't talk about these issues. To the next! Best wishes!!


    May 7, 2021 at 20:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. trailer supplies orange county


    May 7, 2021 at 20:12 | 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.