Recently, there has been an increase in alarming warnings on the product packaging of many consumer goods that are sold or distributed in the US state of California in particular, and which are increasingly coming into focus here in Germany as well due to the transparency of the Internet:
This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm
But what does this warning mean, which can be found on consumer goods such as textiles, shoes, children's toys, recreational items, stationery, home improvement items, electrical items, and even knives, among others?
This reference goes back to Proposition 65 (also Prop 65, CP65 or P65), passed in 1986. This law, which applies exclusively in California, was enacted by decree to protect drinking water from toxic substances and obliges companies to label their products with the California Propostion 65 notice if affected ingredients are used. The corresponding list of "The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986," as the labeling law is officially called, is continuously updated and now contains more than 800 chemicals or toxic substances such as chlorine, alcohol or cocaine. Accordingly, companies are prohibited from discharging toxic waste generated during the production process directly to or near drinking water sources. In addition, this labeling requirement is intended to provide consumers with transparency about the substances used and their harmful effects.
According to the law, the substances concerned are considered to be carcinogenic if the specified dosage causes cancer in one person out of 100,000 after 70 years of exposure, or in the case of substances that are harmful to genetic material, no significantly increased harmful effect on the organism may be detectable after a thousand times exposure of the specified dosage. Since the list is very long, there is a very high probability that an element that is (indirectly) on the list is used in the manufacture of a knife. The use of brass obliges the companies to include the warning label, because a small amount of lead is contained. Lubricants or greasing with industrial alcohol also justify the inclusion of the warning label.
For fear of legal disputes, many companies provide their product packaging with the Prop 65 label as a precaution, but this also leads to uncertainty among many consumers. Since Boker knives are also distributed by the subsidiary Boker USA in California, all products are marked with the P65 notice as a precaution. The same applies to the packaging for Boker's American partners, who in turn deliver their products with the corresponding warning.
Ultimately, it should be noted that the described requirements of the law are negligible for the usual use of the knives we sell, since no significant danger is posed by their ingredients. A positive side effect is that more and more companies are reducing the number or dose of toxic ingredients in their products and are switching to safer substitutes.