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. Sprinter Seat Belt Buckle Repair


    May 31, 2021 at 23:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. 80 guest post

    Hi, your post is interesting and I want to share it in my twitter,facebook. But I think you can increase your current google ranks by using "seowebsitetraffic skyrank your website". My mother uses it and it works great. Just google it, it’s a good service to bring you a lot of new engaging readers like me. Keep up the high quality work!


    June 1, 2021 at 00:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Darrell Dellamore

    We the blog, I actually sincerely hope that your blog some sort of rapid increase in traffic density, which help encourage your blog and we trust that your blog is being up-to-date.


    June 1, 2021 at 00:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Chevrolet Cargo Van Repair


    June 1, 2021 at 00:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. RNR White Vapors

    Has anyone ever tried RYPE Vapors Ejuice?


    June 1, 2021 at 00:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. https://j-website.net

    Best view i have ever seen !


    June 1, 2021 at 01:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Nissan Luxury Van Repair

    Everyone loves it whenever people come together and share opinions. Great website, stick with it!


    June 1, 2021 at 01:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Zisseloh

    is tadalafil the same as cialis online cialis cialis versus viagra

    June 1, 2021 at 01:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Sprinter Door Repair Panel

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


    June 1, 2021 at 02:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Sprinter Van Windshield Replacement

    Howdy! I simply want to offer you a huge thumbs up for the great information you have here on this post. I'll be coming back to your web site for more soon.


    June 1, 2021 at 02:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Sprinter Van Recall Repair Near Me


    June 1, 2021 at 03:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Repair 2005 Sprinter Ecm

    I really like it when folks get together and share opinions. Great website, keep it up!


    June 1, 2021 at 03:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Sprinter Cdi Injector Repair

    Spot on with this write-up, I actually believe that this website needs a great deal more attention. I’ll probably be back again to read through more, thanks for the information!


    June 1, 2021 at 03:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. 인천아파트분양

    I want to to thank you for this fantastic read!! I absolutely enjoyed every little bit of
    it. I've got you saved as a favorite to look at
    new things you post…

    June 1, 2021 at 03:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. https://j-website.net

    Best view i have ever seen !


    June 1, 2021 at 03:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Sprinter Resistor Repair


    June 1, 2021 at 03:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Travel Van Repair Shop


    June 1, 2021 at 03:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. 먹튀검증

    An outstanding share! I've just forwarded this onto a friend who was doing a little research on this. And he actually bought me breakfast simply because I found it for him... lol. So allow me to reword this.... Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending some time to talk about this topic here on your internet site.


    June 1, 2021 at 04:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. RV Parts And Repair Near Me


    June 1, 2021 at 05:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. https://topphimhot.net

    Best view i have ever seen !


    June 1, 2021 at 05:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. CrulkAsd

    cialis online doctor cialis tadalafil online paypal cialis for sale brand

    June 1, 2021 at 06:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. https://j-website.net

    Best view i have ever seen !


    June 1, 2021 at 07:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Best RV Repair Near Me

    Excellent post! We will be linking to this particularly great article on our site. Keep up the great writing.


    June 1, 2021 at 07:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Gmc Cargo Van Repair Shop Near Me


    June 1, 2021 at 08:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Aferin Ne İşe Yarar

    It is truly a great and helpful piece of info. I am happy that you simply shared this useful info with us. Please stay us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.


    June 1, 2021 at 08:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. rv collision repair

    You made some good points there. I checked on the web to find out more about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this website.


    June 1, 2021 at 10:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. rv window repair near me


    June 1, 2021 at 11:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. bay door repair

    Aw, this was a really nice post. Taking a few minutes and actual effort to produce a good article… but what can I say… I hesitate a lot and don't seem to get anything done.


    June 1, 2021 at 11:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. bus repair shops near me

    May I just say what a comfort to discover a person that truly knows what they are talking about online. You definitely realize how to bring an issue to light and make it important. A lot more people need to look at this and understand this side of the story. I was surprised that you're not more popular since you surely possess the gift.

    https://go.onelink.me/v1xd?pid=Patch&c=Mobile Footer&af_web_dp=http://easyimplantology.com/index.php/news/item/110-dentista-per-bambini-adolescenti-centro-dentistico-ventimiglia?start=2350

    June 1, 2021 at 12:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Rv Repair


    June 1, 2021 at 12:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Rv Repair Shop Near Me

    Next time I read a blog, I hope that it does not fail me as much as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read through, but I actually believed you'd have something useful to say. All I hear is a bunch of complaining about something you could fix if you were not too busy searching for attention.


    June 1, 2021 at 12:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Zisseloh

    cialis overnight shipping canada viagra cialis trail pack viagra vs cialis vs levitra price

    June 1, 2021 at 12:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. trailer shops near me


    June 1, 2021 at 12:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Ford Transit Conversion Shop

    Your style is so unique in comparison to other people I've read stuff from. Many thanks for posting when you've got the opportunity, Guess I will just book mark this blog.


    June 1, 2021 at 13:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. rv parts in san diego

    I must thank you for the efforts you have put in writing this site. I really hope to see the same high-grade blog posts from you in the future as well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has encouraged me to get my own, personal site now 😉


    June 1, 2021 at 13:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Corinne Ferencz

    Oh my goodness! Impressive article dude! Thank you so much, However I am experiencing problems with your RSS. I don’t know why I am unable to join it. Is there anybody having similar RSS problems? Anyone that knows the solution can you kindly respond? Thanx!!


    June 1, 2021 at 13:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. truck repair around me


    June 1, 2021 at 14:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Van Repair Shop

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


    June 1, 2021 at 14:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Ray Lovell


    June 1, 2021 at 15:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Amparo Zbikowski

    Excellent post. I will be dealing with many of these issues as well..


    June 1, 2021 at 15:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Nigerian movies

    Wow that was odd. I just wrote an really long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn't show up. Grrrr... well I'm not writing all that over again. Anyway, just wanted to say superb blog!|


    June 1, 2021 at 15:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. truck body shops near me

    Oh my goodness! Incredible article dude! Many thanks, However I am encountering issues with your RSS. I don’t know the reason why I am unable to join it. Is there anyone else having identical RSS problems? Anybody who knows the solution will you kindly respond? Thanx!!


    June 1, 2021 at 16:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Art Ruszkowski


    June 1, 2021 at 16:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. fiberglass panels for rv repair


    June 1, 2021 at 16:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Kenneth Goeppinger


    June 1, 2021 at 16:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. EncoxHtf

    cialis for daily use online can cialis raise blood pressure buy cialis 5 mg

    June 1, 2021 at 16:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Celebrity Van Repair Shop


    June 1, 2021 at 17:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Windshield Replacement Shop


    June 1, 2021 at 17:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Sprinter Van Body

    An interesting discussion is worth comment. I think that you should publish more on this subject matter, it might not be a taboo subject but usually people do not talk about such issues. To the next! All the best!!


    June 1, 2021 at 17:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. rv and trailer repair

    I’m amazed, I must say. Seldom do I encounter a blog that’s equally educative and entertaining, and without a doubt, you have hit the nail on the head. The problem is something not enough men and women are speaking intelligently about. I'm very happy I came across this in my search for something concerning this.


    June 1, 2021 at 18:06 | 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.