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. 2017 Maserati Granturismo

    This website was... how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I've found something which helped me. Thanks!


    May 14, 2021 at 17:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. houses for sale by my location

    Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you writing this write-up and also the rest of the website is very good.


    May 14, 2021 at 18:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. 소액결제 현금화


    May 14, 2021 at 20:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. 토토

    Hello there, There's no doubt that your blog could be having browser compatibility problems. When I take a look at your blog in Safari, it looks fine but when opening in IE, it's got some overlapping issues. I simply wanted to give you a quick heads up! Aside from that, great blog!


    May 14, 2021 at 20:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. home for sale bayview id

    I was pretty pleased to discover this web site. I want to to thank you for ones time for this particularly fantastic read!! I definitely really liked every part of it and i also have you saved as a favorite to see new stuff in your web site.


    May 14, 2021 at 22:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. click here

    A very excellent writing. I was thankful for your blog article. I have found some sort of lot of strategies following visiting your publish.


    May 14, 2021 at 22:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. clavier arabe tarjamat google

    After checking out a handful of the articles on your site, I honestly like your way of blogging. I saved as a favorite it to my bookmark website list and will be checking back in the near future. Please visit my website as well and let me know what you think.


    May 14, 2021 at 23:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. mudanças

    You really make it appear so easy with your presentation but I in finding this topic to be really something which I think I'd never understand. It seems too complicated and very extensive for me. I'm taking a look forward in your subsequent post, I'll attempt to get the dangle of it!|


    May 14, 2021 at 23:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. 출장


    May 15, 2021 at 00:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. thethao24h.com

    Greate pieces. Keep posting such kind of info
    on your site. Im really impressed by your site.

    Hey there, You've done an incredible job. I will definitely digg
    it and in my opinion suggest to my friends. I'm confident they'll be benefited from this site.

    May 15, 2021 at 00:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. houses for sale sandpoint id

    You need to be a part of a contest for one of the best websites on the internet. I am going to highly recommend this blog!


    May 15, 2021 at 00:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. homes for sale bayview

    Spot on with this write-up, I truly believe this site needs much more attention. I’ll probably be back again to see more, thanks for the advice!


    May 15, 2021 at 00:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. repair near me


    May 15, 2021 at 00:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. 토토

    After looking at a handful of the blog posts on your blog, I seriously appreciate your technique of blogging. I saved it to my bookmark webpage list and will be checking back in the near future. Please check out my web site too and tell me how you feel.


    May 15, 2021 at 01:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. couch repair near me

    Hi there! This post could not be written any better! Going through this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He constantly kept talking about this. I am going to send this information to him. Pretty sure he'll have a very good read. I appreciate you for sharing!


    May 15, 2021 at 01:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. houses for sale post falls idaho


    May 15, 2021 at 01:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. custom rv services

    You have made some decent points there. I looked on the web for more info about the issue and found most individuals will go along with your views on this web site.


    May 15, 2021 at 02:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. home for sale rathdrum id


    May 15, 2021 at 04:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Eye Glasses Near Me

    Pretty! This was an incredibly wonderful post. Thank you for providing these details.


    May 15, 2021 at 04:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. house for sale hayden lake id


    May 15, 2021 at 04:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. TifttXNDhH

    social service essay in english buy political science essays st edmunds will writing service cv writing service birmingham uk

    May 15, 2021 at 04:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Maserati Usa Price

    Good info. Lucky me I came across your website by chance (stumbleupon). I've bookmarked it for later!


    May 15, 2021 at 05:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Eye Glasses Near Me


    May 15, 2021 at 05:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Maserati Price


    May 15, 2021 at 05:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. body shop raleigh

    nice information for a new blogger. it is really helpful


    May 15, 2021 at 05:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. combigan

    brimonidine tartrate buy brimonidine online

    May 15, 2021 at 05:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. getting help with loan consolidation

    Usually I never comment on blogs but your article is so convincing that I never stop myself to say something about it. You're doing a great job Man,Keep it up.


    May 15, 2021 at 06:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. home for sale rathdrum idaho

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


    May 15, 2021 at 06:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. 소액결제현금화


    May 15, 2021 at 06:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Vision

    There is definately a great deal to learn about this issue. I like all the points you have made.


    May 15, 2021 at 07:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. 2017 Maserati Ghibli

    Spot on with this write-up, I honestly believe this web site needs far more attention. I’ll probably be returning to read through more, thanks for the advice!


    May 15, 2021 at 07:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. HVAC Warrenton VA

    such a great information for blogger i am a professional blogger thanks


    May 15, 2021 at 07:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. homes for sale stateline idaho


    May 15, 2021 at 07:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. how to repair rv blinds

    Hi, I do think this is a great web site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I may return yet again since I book marked it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to help others.


    May 15, 2021 at 07:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Fence Contractor Baton Rouge LA

    A great read. I'll definitely be back.


    May 15, 2021 at 07:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. combigan

    combigan eye drops combigan eye drops 2%

    May 15, 2021 at 08:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Roofer Hainesport

    this is very informative and intersting for those who are interested in blogging field.


    May 15, 2021 at 08:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Locksmith Palo Alto

    Keep this going please, great job!


    May 15, 2021 at 08:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Eye Center Near Me

    Howdy, There's no doubt that your blog could be having browser compatibility issues. Whenever I take a look at your website in Safari, it looks fine but when opening in IE, it's got some overlapping issues. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Besides that, excellent site!


    May 15, 2021 at 09:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. realtor wallace

    I could not refrain from commenting. Very well written!


    May 15, 2021 at 09:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. combigan

    combigan eye drops generic combigan

    May 15, 2021 at 09:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Phoenix Optometrist


    May 15, 2021 at 09:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Roofer Raleigh NC

    Impressive! Thanks for the post


    May 15, 2021 at 10:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. JebgEncox

    Viagra Soft Tabs drugs from canada Doxazosin

    May 15, 2021 at 10:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. 출장마사지


    May 15, 2021 at 11:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Fence Builder Baton Rouge LA

    Interesting stuff to read. Keep it up.


    May 15, 2021 at 11:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. 토토

    I blog often and I genuinely appreciate your content. The article has really peaked my interest. I'm going to take a note of your website and keep checking for new information about once a week. I subscribed to your RSS feed as well.


    May 15, 2021 at 11:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. houses for sale rathdrum id


    May 15, 2021 at 11:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. 소액결제현금

    Saved as a favorite, I love your website!


    May 15, 2021 at 11:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. 먹튀

    Everyone loves it when individuals get together and share ideas. Great site, continue the good work!


    May 15, 2021 at 11:32 | 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.