If you were horrified by PrettyLittleThing’s warning of cancer and birth defects on their products which went viral this week, then don’t worry, there’s a reason for it.
The fashion brand was criticised by shoppers online after one person tweeted them.
The label read: ‘WARNING: Some Products on our online store from time to time may contain chemicals that are known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm and may be included on the Proposition 65 chemical list.’
Other brands such as ASOS and Fashion Nova as well as PLT’s sister brand Boohoo also have a similar note on their U.S sites.
So what does Proposition 65 mean?
This statement written on the fashion items complies with California’s Proposition 65 which requires businesses to provide warnings to Californians about significant exposures to chemicals that cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm.
According to Cancer.org, California’s Proposition 65, also called the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act first became law in the state in 1986
All companies trading in California have to include this label on their products or risk being sued.
Stores, restaurants, hotel rooms and even car parks in the state have this warning in clear view at times.
What do cancer warnings mean for British shoppers?
Under Proposition 65, there are more than 900 naturally occurring and synthetic chemicals and the list is always changing.
These chemicals or ingredients are typically found in pesticides, common household products, food, drugs, dyes or solvents.
Fashion brands may contain them in the dyes used. Using these items doesn’t mean that you’re at a significantly higher risk of having health problems but that even with the lowest possible chances, brands are required to mention it.
The warning is there for American shoppers who may buy from the British site. In the UK no such law has the same requirement.
How to find out more about what’s in an item
Cancer.org encourages finding the name of the manufacturer by checking the package and any written information that comes with the product.
The contact information is often on or in the package as well, but if it isn’t, you can look it up online by searching the manufacturer’s name.
Contact the manufacturer to find out what potentially hazardous substance(s) the product contains. You might also want to ask what part of the product it’s in.
You can ask them how a person might be exposed to the chemicals of concern from this product.
Some common exposure routes include inhalation, contact with food, transfer to food or drink from unwashed hands, or a baby or child putting the product in his or her mouth.
Find out what the manufacturer knows about the hazards of the chemicals in the product. Do the risks include cancer, reproductive harm, or both?
Ask the manufacturer if there are ways to reduce any risk of exposure to the hazardous substance while using the product.
What did PrettyLittleThing say about the backlash?
The retailer mentioned some of the points made above, releasing a statement which read: ‘This [label] is in compliance with California’s Proposition 65.
‘It is a legal requirement for all e-commerce sites that sell to the state of California. The list contains a wide range of chemicals that can be found in common household products, food, drugs, dyes, plastics etc.’
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