Understand the Proposition 65 California Warning for Your Healthy Home

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Have you ever been shopping and it’s like everything you look at contains the proposition 65 warning label?  When I first started seeing it, I had to look up what it was — because I was seeing it EVERYWHERE.  It got to a point that I think I actually started ignoring it, assuming that literally EVERYTHING I saw was probably going to have that label.

And I don’t’ think I’m alone in this either.  I’m guessing maybe you’ve felt the same way.  And maybe you’ve even become like me — a little bit desensitized to its effectiveness.

What started off as an act to protect drinking water has transformed into one of the most confusing and overused labels to date.  BUT, if used the right way, it  can actually be a really handy tool when you’re shopping for items for your healthy home.  

Afterall, you want to avoid as many toxins as possible, and this proposition 65 label really can help you do just that.  Of course there are a few caveats that come with it that we will explore, but I think that you can learn to use it in your favor with this guidance.


It can feel like this warning is on EVERYTHING.  I feel likeI see it all the time, and in a way after you see it all the time, you start to ignore it or pay attention to it less and less.  In a way the label has desensitized many of us.

But the truth is that YES, it can be a beneficial tool while you’re shopping or choosing items for your home.  I mean, WHY NOT avoid as many toxins as you can if you can easily do it?  If you were choosing between two food storage containers, and one had the Proposition 65 California warning and one did not, wouldn’t it make the choice easy?

While I don’t think it’s necessarily the end all be all of labels, it can be helpful as a guide when used the right way.  It’s also important to remember that it’s not just products with the Prop 65 California Warning that can be harmful.  Our own choice of lifestyle can be harmful, and so you must take all of these things into consideration.


There are hundreds of chemicals and toxins that are included in the Prop 65 Warning.  And they are toxins that potentially can cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm. 

The range of toxins that have been included in the Proposition 65 California warning is vast and long.  The main categories of toxins covered are:

  • Pesticides
  • Synthetic Chemicals
  • Heavy Metals
  • Solvents
  • Byproducts of a Chemical Process

You can see the full list of toxins covered on their website, where they list the concern for each chemical.

The products covered under the Prop 65 California warning include:

  • Food Contact Materials
  • Textiles
  • Toys
  • Furniture 
  • Electronics
  • Beauty Products
  • Personal Care Products
  • Gym Equipment
  • Building Materials
  • Food
  • Jewelry
  • Clothing

While most companies must comply with this warning in order to do business in the state of California, businesses with fewer than 10 employees are exempt from this ruling. 


The Gray Areas: One of the big things that I have uncovered as I’ve researched Prop 65 Warnings for my clients and home buyers is that SOMETIMES the warning is for components or toxins that are NEVER exposed to you while using the product properly.  

A perfect example of this is appliances.  MOST appliances carry the Prop 65 California warning.  This is because the interior of the product may contain things like lead or other heavy metal materials that are necessary for them to work properly.  While they are present in the appliance, they are not actually exposed to you while you use the appliance properly.  But if you were to use the product in a way that was taking it completely apart or in an improper way, you could potentially be exposed.  Just a caveat to keep in mind.

Don’t Let It Stress You Out:  The truth is that we are exposed to toxins and chemicals all day long, every day.  The goal of a healthy home is to reduce toxins enough that your body can safely detox what you DO come into contact with.  The goal is NEVER a totally toxin free home — this actually doesn’t exist. So I implore you, don’t stress out if you have products that have the Proposition 65 California warning.  You can still have a low toxin space and lifestyle when you come into contact with these items.  One thing you can do is use the materials and products smarter — increase air flow around your home, wash your hands before eating or after use and use a good air purifier in your space.

Just Do Your Best:  Don’t beat yourself up over past purchases.  Instead, do better moving forward. The idea is when you know better, you do better.  We all have past purchases that we cringe at (even if those purchases were just last week before  you learned something new).  Instead of focusing on these purchases that can potentially introduce toxins to your space, you should be focusing on how you can do this better next time.  Do your research to choose products that don’t carry the Prop 65 California warning in the future.  Again: know better, do better.

Awareness is Half the Battle:  Most of the time we don’t make the right decision because we aren’t even aware of the toxins that we could potentially come into contact with.  Toxins are all around us and we’re never taught about toxins in school.  Instead, we have to seek out this information constantly and educate ourselves on a regular basis about these toxins.  So please know that if you’re aware of even just a few toxins, you are a better spot than most homes and families.  Keep learning and continue to be aware of the potential toxins in your space.


You’ve heard me talk about this time and time again — there are three ways you’re exposed to toxins:  the toxins in you, the toxins on you and the toxins around you.  Toxins that we come in contact with in all three ways are the most concerning because our system is bombarded due to exposure through skin, lungs and gut.  

The toxins that sit on your skin for long periods of time are likely the MOST concerning to our health and wellness. This is anything from makeup to lotion to our clothing.  Think about your deodorant for a moment and just how long that stays on our skin and the length of time our body is exposed to any toxin in the deodorant.  Likely it’s around 24 hours — each time you bathe.

Another important item to pay attention to are the items that we sleep on and around.  No matter how you spin it, you’re likely spending at least a third of your day in bed and in your bedroom.  This length of time makes it an important area to pay attention to when it comes to toxins.  Being exposed for long periods of time and in close proximity to these toxins doesn’t give your body the rest or break it needs from chemicals.  Instead, it’s creating a situation where your body needs to detox these toxins constantly for long periods of time.  And likely your body isn’t detoxing EVERYTHING it comes in contact with, which is when body burden becomes a real problem.

And finally, items that touch our food.  Materials that are toxic and also come in contact with our food can leach chemicals and toxins directly into the food we’re ingesting.  While the stomach does have enzymes that can break down some toxins, there is proof that not only does ingesting toxins negatively impact our overall health,but it wreaks havoc on the gut microbiome as well.  Anything that stores your food, you eat off of or you cook off of should be something that you’re paying attention to in great detail.  Unfortunately so much of what we use has just become a habit and many of us don’t think twice about changing our food storage habits.


I think the most important thing to remember is that the Proposition 65 California Warning should be used as a guide.  It should not be used as the only tool in making a decision.  When an item carries this label, it can be difficult to know just how toxic the product actually is.  We all know that there are varying levels of toxins and that large amounts are often times more toxic than small amounts.

It can also be challenging because you don’t know WHICH toxins are in the product or material that has the label.  There are toxins that are more concerning than others, and so without knowing the exact chemicals or toxins present, you won’t know how to rank various products or materials accordingly.

That being said, the goal is to avoid as many toxins as possible, and so just know that by using a product or purchasing an item with this label, you are exposing yourself to toxins, whether unnecessary or not.  So my best advice is to use this warning label as guidance for a place to start with your research on something, or when choosing between two items.

So while yes, it can seem like we’ve become a bit desensitized to this proposition 65 California warning label, it can be a useful tool when used the right way.  Remember that the goal is to reduce toxins as much as possible, and never to obtain a totally toxin free space.

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