Mike Rogge

Prop. 65 warning for lead

By Mike Rogge

Capitol Update, Aug. 28, 2015 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

In early July, we reported that an Alameda County Superior Court judge had issued a tentative decision dismissing Mateel Environmental Justice Foundations suit against California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) which attempted to require OEHHA to rescind the current safe harbor level for lead. Mateel believes that there should not be a threshold for lead – any detectable amount should be a violation. Unexpectedly, the judge later reversed his decision. This is a major problem since lead is ubiquitous and trace amounts are found virtually everywhere and in everything.

According to Inside CalEPA, “Mateel is a legal organization that has filed thousands of notices to sue companies under Prop. 65 for alleged violations.”

Safe harbor levels, which include No Significant Risk Levels (NSRLs) for cancer-causing chemicals, and Maximum Allowable Dose Levels (MADLs) for chemicals causing reproductive toxicity, have been established for many of the chemicals listed under Prop, 65. Safe harbor levels represent a threshold below which adverse human health effects are not expected to occur. Exposure levels and discharges to drinking water sources that are below the safe harbor levels are exempt from the requirements of Prop. 65.

OEHHA announced that on Friday, August 28, it will post on its website four separate pre-regulatory proposals to:

  1. Establish a lower/revised lead MADL based on the frequency of exposure, from day 1 to day 14, rather than specify one safe harbor figure (we anticipate the one-day figure will be approximately 0.3 mcg/day, a decrease of 40 percent from the current MADL of 0.5 mcg/day; at about 10 days and above, the figure would rise to a little more than 3.0 mcg/day)
  2. Adopt specific naturally occurring allowances for lead in various plant products based on California data regarding background levels of lead in soil as well as uptake by plants;
  3. Bar averaging lead or other contaminant levels across different lots of a food product; and 
  4. Clarify that the “average rate of exposure” is based on the arithmetic mean and not the geometric mean.

The public will have an opportunity to comment on each proposal, and each proposal will be the subject of public discussion during a pre-regulatory workshop rescheduled for Wednesday, October 14.

If you are concerned about this action, please contact Mike Rogge at mrogge@cmta.net. We will be forming a group within CMTA to discuss how we proceed.

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