Marine manufacturers will be responsible for providing expanded product warnings beginning August.
STATEWIDE — Browsing through the website p65warnings.ca.gov, there are hundreds of chemicals, products and even places chronicled potentially containing side effects that could lead to cancer, birth defects or reproductive system damage. One of the “products” found on the alphabetically categorized list is diesel engine exhaust, which is a known emission of some watercrafts and one main topic that boaters will see in new warnings under California’s Proposition 65.
Prop. 65 was enacted through the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986. As this proposition evolved, it required the state to maintain a list of chemicals known to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity. Businesses and manufacturers are also responsible for informing anyone within California’s borders about potentially harmful chemicals or products.
While some materials in the home, such as asbestos and carbon monoxide, are commonly known to cause harm, boaters may not be aware some toxic chemicals are used to manufacture or maintain their boats. The breathing in of diesel fuels, for example, is generally recognized as dangerous, but California’s new regulations under Prop. 65 will make it easier for citizens to access the studies and facts of why these chemicals, emissions or byproducts are so deadly.
New regulations for Prop. 65 will take effect as of Aug. 30. Many of us have probably encountered the warning on the side of a carton of cigarettes that lets others know smoking can cause cancer or, worse, smoking while pregnant could cause birth defects to an unborn child. Part of the new regulation, in addition to the old procedure, states the new language must identify the chemical or chemicals that could be deadly as well as print a warning symbol. The warning labels could be more in-depth, by stating the actual chemicals known to cause cancer or reproductive harm, or the warning could be more basic by just stating the harm and then a link to the Prop. 65 website with a more detailed account of the chemical.
Labels would only apply to boats manufactured after Aug. 30, 2018.
Safe Harbor Levels
According to a statement released by the National Marine Manufacturers Association, “If your product contains or emits a chemical on the Prop. 65 List, and if the exposure is either above the ‘no significant risk level’ for cancer or above the ‘no observable effect level’ for reproductive harm, you must provide a warning.”
A warning is required unless a chemical’s exposure is low enough to be deemed safe, posing no significant threat or risk to a person’s health.
There are two major groupings that California’s Prop. 65 categorizes chemical or emissions threats by: cancer and birth defects/reproductive harm.
For cancer, the no significant risk level (NSRL) would be a 1 in 100,000 chance of developing cancer after being exposed for 70 years.
As for surveying the effects of birth defects and reproductive harm, No Observable Effect Level (NOEL) “is determined by identifying the level of exposure that has been shown to not pose any harm to humans or laboratory animals.” This level is then divided by 1,000 as an added precaution, which results in the NOEL.
NSRLs and NOELs make up the Safe Harbor Levels.
Diesel Engine Exposure Warning & More
For boaters, know any warnings about recreational vessels will be stated in either the manufacturer’s manual. Capt. Nicole Sours-Larson reported in a Dock Lines column it is good practice for boaters to become more familiar with the manuals that come with their vessels. By reading the manufacturer’s manual, a boater may learn something new about their vessel in addition to learning about any associated dangerous practices, gases or chemicals. If the warning is not displayed in the manual, a tag must be attached to the boat’s helm printed in type no smaller than 12-point.
The diesel engine of a vessel is known to cause cancer or birth defects when exposed to the fumes. As many experienced boaters and captains may know, it’s important to address any engine-related issues in a well-ventilated area.
If boaters have any questions about products or chemicals, it is simple to visit the website at p65warnings.ca.gov to check. When searching “diesel,” 16 results are offered back on the website including components of diesel emissions and diesel engine exhaust. By pulling up the page on diesel engine exhaust, readers will find the studies and organizations associated with the listing, possible exposure sites, fact sheets allowing readers to learn more about the terms, websites, photos and a plethora of other learning resources aiding the general public with gaining knowledge.
While it serves the boating community to gain knowledge about what goes in to manufacturing their vessels, the ingredients used in any chemicals and the byproducts their boats emit, this issue will immediately affect marine manufacturers most. Manufacturers failing to provide notices could see fines as much as $2,500 per violation per day, which could add up to extremely costly fines depending on how many items without warnings are produced. The California Attorney General’s Office is responsible for enforcing Prop. 65, as well any district or city attorney.