Californian cancer warning causes alarm in Moray shop

Californian warning found on ear buds in Elgin store.
Californian warning found on ear buds in Elgin store.

HIGHER CONSUMER SAFETY standards on products sold in California have sparked understandable alarm for some Moray shoppers.

The US State has ordered that any product containing compounds that have been linked as contributing to cancer, birth defects or reproductive harm must contain a label warning consumers of the potential danger.

Now the labels have been spotted on items being sold in a Moray store – prompting fears that UK standards simply do not go far enough and posing questions over just how much risk exists.

Drawing attention to ‘delux’ ear buds purchased from TKMaxx in Elgin, one insideMoray reader said: “I was horrified when I got the buds home and had a close look at the label – which included the text: “Warning: This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm”.

“This is perhaps something that needs to be brought to people’s attention – I doubt very many will read the small print and this is very worrying.”

Proposition 65

The warning is the result of California’s ‘Proposition 65’ – also called the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, introduced 30 years ago. The Act is intended to help Californians make informed decisions about protecting themselves from chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm.

A list of such chemicals is updated every year – some of the substances listed can affect the reproductive systems of men and/or women.

Others are thought to cause cancer and Scientists classify all of these cancer-related substances at least as probable carcinogens, meaning that they might cause cancer in some people. But not all of them are known carcinogens (known to cause cancer) by groups and experts outside the state of California.

However, not every compound labelled as a cancer-causing substance has actually been proven in the worldwide scientific community to actually cause cancer.

Normally manufacturers will restrict the label to products sold in California – clearly, however, some ‘escape’ into other markets, hence the product carrying the warning being sold in Moray.

According to the US Cancer Society’s ‘Learn about Cancer’ information, the California labelling can refer to such as minute amounts of led in electronic devices (on the outer plastic covering). It explains “Lead is a probable carcinogen, meaning it can probably cause cancer in some situations. But there is no way to assess the risk or even level of exposure for any one person handling electrical cords or cables.

“The amount of lead a person might absorb will depend on what the person does with the cord and how long they handle it. People are exposed to lead mainly by swallowing or breathing powdered lead. The lead found in cords is not powdered, so users are not at risk of inhaling it.”

More information on the California law requiring the labels can be found online.

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