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From Home Furnishing Business

NAHFA to Participate in Prop 65 Public Workshop

The North American Home Furnishings Association will participate in a public workshop in Sacramento on April 14 to present furniture retailer views on proposed reforms to California’s Proposition 65.

The NAHFA has been working closely with the American Home Furnishings Alliance--which also will participate in the workshop--on Prop 65 and other issues that affect the home furnishings industry.

Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed reforms aim to reduce unnecessary litigation and result in more useful information for the public on what chemicals they are being exposed to and how they can protect themselves. California voters approved Prop 65 in 1986, requiring the governor to annually publish a list of chemicals known to the state to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity. California businesses that sell product containing chemicals on the list must provide a clear warning to the public.

The proposed reforms seek to cap or limit attorney’s fees; require stronger demonstration by plaintiffs that they have information to support claims before litigation begins; require greater disclosure of plaintiff’s information; set limits on the amount of money in an enforcement case that can go into settlement funds in lieu of penalties; give the state the ability to adjust the level at which Prop 65 warnings are needed for chemicals that cause reproductive harm; and require more useful public information.

The reform provides an exemption for businesses with fewer than 25 employees. This revision would give retailers who’ve been notified of a minor violation a 24-hour window in which to correct the violation (missing sign. for example); or 14 days if software or equipment must be repaired/replaced.

Last year more than 200 notices of Prop 65 violations were filed against furniture companies for failing to notify consumers in California that their upholstered products contained the common flame retardant chemical TDCPP. Many of the cases remain unsettled, but, according to AHFA’s most recent review of the California Attorney General’s Web site, which logs all settlements, the home furnishings industry has already paid out more than $3.6 million in court costs and attorney fees for these violations.

The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment(OEHHA), which is the California agency that administers Prop 65, is sponsoring the workshop; OEHHA may make changes to the proposed reforms, but final adoption is not expected until early summer 2015.

If adopted, the reforms to Prop 65 would establish new minimum requirements for the warning labels. In addition to the word WARNING, the labels for all products other than food would be required to carry the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) pictogram for toxic hazards.

Further, the proposal calls for OEHHA to establish a list of up to 12 “commonly-known” chemicals that would have to be mentioned by name in the text of the warning. Among the 12 chemicals currently on this list are “chlorinated tris,” formaldehyde and lead. The proposal states that this list “is not intended to be exhaustive and may be changed over time as the public becomes more familiar with the improved warning format.”

New warning labels also would have to carry a link to a new OEHHA Web site. The Web site, which is not yet under development, would be intended to provide the public with access to more information on chemicals, including possible routes of exposure and, if applicable, any actions that individuals can take to reduce or avoid exposure.

Manufacturers would bear the responsibility of providing OEHHA with the information posted on the new website, including: the name and contact information for the manufacturer of any product covered by the warning; the name of the chemical or chemicals for which the warning is provided; the type of occupational, environmental or product exposure the warning is intended to cover; the type of harm (cancer, birth defect or reproductive) caused by the named chemical; the anticipated route of exposure to the chemical; and information about preventative actions a person can take to minimize exposure.

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