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. house for sale near my location


    May 15, 2021 at 11:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Arizonas Vision


    May 15, 2021 at 11:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Optometrist Near


    May 15, 2021 at 12:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. homes for sale near my location


    May 15, 2021 at 12:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. school bus repair shops

    I need to to thank you for this good read!! I definitely loved every little bit of it. I've got you book-marked to look at new things you post…


    May 15, 2021 at 12:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. brimonidine

    buy brimonidine online brimonidine dosage

    May 15, 2021 at 12:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Go Pro Locksmith Palo Alto

    Thanks for wonderful information I used to be in search of this info for my mission.


    May 15, 2021 at 13:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. homes for sale hauser

    An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a colleague who had been doing a little homework on this. And he in fact bought me breakfast because I discovered it for him... lol. So allow me to reword this.... Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending time to talk about this issue here on your internet site.


    May 15, 2021 at 13:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. 소액결제


    May 15, 2021 at 13:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. locksmith St. Louis

    I'm not sure where you are getting your information, but great topic.


    May 15, 2021 at 13:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. hvac San Tan Valley

    Thanks for the information.


    May 15, 2021 at 13:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. vcm collision center


    May 15, 2021 at 13:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Carpet cleaning Silver

    Thanks for the information.


    May 15, 2021 at 13:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Maui Jim Prescription Sunglasses

    This site was... how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I've found something that helped me. Thank you!


    May 15, 2021 at 14:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Sclera Lenses


    May 15, 2021 at 14:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Taobao purchasing agency

    These are really great ideas in regarding blogging.
    You have touched some pleasant factors here. Any way keep up wrinting.

    May 15, 2021 at 14:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Nigeria Property

    Please let me know if you're looking for a article writer for your site.
    You have some really good articles and I believe I would be a good asset.
    If you ever want to take some of the load off,
    I'd absolutely love to write some material for your blog in exchange for a
    link back to mine. Please send me an email if interested.

    May 15, 2021 at 14:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. nearest house for sale


    May 15, 2021 at 15:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. redtube co


    May 15, 2021 at 15:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. https://shiatsu-web.com

    Best view i have ever seen !


    May 15, 2021 at 15:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. iullxrpDcv

    resume writing service new york essay on international economic order essay on helmet a help or nuisance live homework help brainfuse

    May 15, 2021 at 16:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. rv upgrade store


    May 15, 2021 at 17:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Maserati Career


    May 15, 2021 at 17:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. คาสิโนtrue wallet ไม่มีขั้นต่ำ

    Attractive section of content. I simply stumbled upon your website and in accession capital
    to say that I acquire actually enjoyed account your blog posts.

    Anyway I'll be subscribing for your augment and even I fulfillment
    you get right of entry to persistently fast.

    May 15, 2021 at 17:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Used Maserati Granturismo


    May 15, 2021 at 17:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. rv parts los angeles


    May 15, 2021 at 18:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Digital Marketing Near Me

    After going over a few of the blog articles on your web page, I really like your technique 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 web site as well and let me know your opinion.


    May 15, 2021 at 18:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. combigan

    brimonidine buy generic combigan

    May 15, 2021 at 18:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. brimonidine

    brimonidine side effects buy generic combigan

    May 15, 2021 at 18:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. 출장안마


    May 15, 2021 at 19:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. 2020 Maserati


    May 15, 2021 at 19:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. stornobrzinol

    you have got an ideal weblog right here! would you prefer to make some invite posts on my weblog?


    May 15, 2021 at 20:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. 소액결제 현금화

    Hi, I think your site might be having internet browser compatibility issues. When I look at your blog in Safari, it looks fine however when opening in IE, it's got some overlapping issues. I simply wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Apart from that, wonderful blog!


    May 15, 2021 at 20:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. How Much Is A 2017 Maserati

    Everyone loves it when folks get together and share ideas. Great blog, stick with it!


    May 15, 2021 at 20:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Fake Portal

    each time i used to read smaller posts which also clear their motive, and that is also happening with this post which I am reading here.|


    May 15, 2021 at 20:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. rv repair services near me

    I really like looking through an article that can make people think. Also, thank you for allowing for me to comment!


    May 15, 2021 at 20:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Maserati Takes La


    May 15, 2021 at 21:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. checkpoint in lake elsinore ca

    Excellent post. I definitely appreciate this site. Thanks!


    May 15, 2021 at 21:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. aika online wiki

    Having read this I thought it was extremely enlightening. I appreciate you spending some time and effort to put this content together. I once again find myself spending way too much time both reading and commenting. But so what, it was still worthwhile!


    May 15, 2021 at 21:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Aika Wiki


    May 15, 2021 at 22:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Content Marketing Agencies


    May 15, 2021 at 22:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Aika Forums


    May 15, 2021 at 22:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Social Media Marketing Job

    I blog often and I genuinely appreciate your information. Your article has really peaked my interest. I will book mark your website and keep checking for new information about once per week. I opted in for your RSS feed as well.


    May 15, 2021 at 22:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Messianic Worship Music

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


    May 15, 2021 at 22:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. europa casino india mistake

    This design is steller! You obviously know how to keep a reader amused. Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost...HaHa!) Great job. I really enjoyed what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it. Too cool!|


    May 15, 2021 at 22:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. 툰코

    798992 218952Thank you for your really great info and feedback from you. san jose car dealers 544112

    May 15, 2021 at 22:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Content Marketing Quote


    May 15, 2021 at 23:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. is winner casino legit

    I don't even know the way I stopped up here, but I assumed this submit was good. I don't understand who you might be but definitely you are going to a well-known blogger in case you aren't already. Cheers!|


    May 15, 2021 at 23:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Local Marketing Experts

    Oh my goodness! Incredible article dude! Thank you, However I am experiencing problems with your RSS. I don’t know why I am unable to join it. Is there anybody getting similar RSS issues? Anybody who knows the answer can you kindly respond? Thanx!!


    May 15, 2021 at 23:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. casino tropez askgamblers

    Hello there, just became aware of your blog through Google, and found that it's really informative. I am going to watch out for brussels. I'll be grateful if you continue this in future. Numerous people will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!|


    May 15, 2021 at 23:30 | 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.