How should I interpet this warning label?



  • I was doing some restoration work on my headlights this weekend, and read the following warning label:

    "This product contains a chemical known to the state of California to cause cancer and/or birth defects"

    How should I interpret this?

    1. Them Californians speak crazy-talk.
    2. There's something in the air in California that makes this chemical cancerogeneous. Move across the border to Nevada and you should be fine.
    3. California's health and safety standards are higher than the rest of the US, but it really is not dangerous. Trust us, we're only making a pile of money selling the stuff in the rest of the world.
    4. The state of California know's it's cancerogeneous, but they will not tell us.
    5. All you spawn are belong to us.
    6. ArrayOutOfBoundsException


  • ­7. Any detectable trace of anything classified as a carcinogen, even if it 0.000001% of the amount required to actually cause cancer, requires the warning label.

    1. The lawyers made them put the warning label on, just in case there might be a trace of something on the list.
    2. Some combination of 1, 3, 7 and 8.

  • Fake News

    Ten. Some lab somewhere practically drowned some rats in this chemical, then said, "See? It causes cancer and/or birth defects!"

    DISCURSE, I SAID TEN, GAHDAMMIT.



  • 11. This chemical has been found in the state of California. Anything found in the state of California is known to cause cancer and/or birth defects.


  • sockdevs

    12. The governor of California spilt his coffee one morning

    1. The amount of hippies reached critical mass
    2. The name of the day of the week has a y in it

  • :belt_onion:

    @RaceProUK said:

    12. The governator of California spilt his coffee one morning

    ATFY



  • Have you really never seen that dumb warning before? It's been stand-up comedian fodder for like 15 years now.



    1. Some States can't handle the referendum system responsibly; California frequently puts their government at the mercy of morons


  • (a) I find stand up comedy dull so I don't watch it.
    (b) I live in a civilised part of the world, where warnings are usually expressed in an unambiguous way.
    (c) I was really wondering what was going on here. How can something be considered dangerous in some parts of the country, and dangerous enough at that so you must put it on a world-wide warning label but not be dangerous in other parts of the world...


  • sockdevs

    @Mikael_Svahnberg said:

    How can something be considered dangerous in some parts of the country, and dangerous enough at that so you must put it on a world-wide warning label but not be dangerous in other parts of the world...

    it's not that. the warning only needs to be on the thing when it's in california, and it's actually cheaper for the company to just print the warning on everything than try and handle the logistics of having two stocks, one for california one for the rest of the world.

    particularly when the rest of the world reads that warning and goes "pffft, those hippies in california are idiots..." or something to that effect anyway.



  • @Mikael_Svahnberg said:

    (b) I live in a civilised part of the world, where warnings are usually expressed in an unambiguous way.

    BTW it'll really bust your brain when you see that label Subaru uses, "Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle". That's a California-specific categorization of car, too.

    I dare you to figure out:

    1. How that label applies to a non-hybrid vehicle (while it's running)
    2. How that label doesn't apply to EVERY VEHICLE EVER MADE (if you also count when it's not running)

    @Mikael_Svahnberg said:

    (c) I was really wondering what was going on here. How can something be considered dangerous in some parts of the country, and dangerous enough at that so you must put it on a world-wide warning label but not be dangerous in other parts of the world...

    It's not dangerous. The "in California" part of that label is basically making fun of California for passing that retarded law.


  • sockdevs

    @blakeyrat said:

    How that label applies to a non-hybrid vehicle (while it's running)

    Is it fitted with Stop-Start?



  • @RaceProUK said:

    Is it fitted with Stop-Start?

    Subarus aren't, though. Even if they were, that puts the car into the "label applies to both running and non-running state", which means it would apply to all cars ever made, even a Model T.

    And of course I'm making the assumption that "partial" in the phrase actually means "part-time", because "partial zero", those two words alone, are utter gibberish.

    Every time I see that label on the back of a car it hurts my brain.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    Pretty easy, actually. Most electronic fuel injected gasoline vehicles since the dawn of time qualify for that label (except for the weight class and category limitations. You won't find it on trucks and you won't find it on sports cars because they, by law, do not qualify for that label.)

    Why? Because at a coast, the fuel injectors stop firing and only kick back in when the transmission disengages to keep the engine from stalling.

    So, it has zero emissions part of the time.
    So does basically every other car.

    Therefore, in order to keep dumb people from walking away from deals, EVERYBODY gets EVERYTHING certified.

    All because California lets people who don't know anything about what they're talking about make decisions.


  • I survived the hour long Uno hand



  • @Mikael_Svahnberg said:

    How can something be considered dangerous in some parts of the country, and dangerous enough at that so you must put it on a world-wide warning label but not be dangerous in other parts of the world.

    It's not that other places don't also consider those substances dangerous; many of them are things that anyone would consider dangerous, at least in non-trace quantities, like lead. However, California has an official list of chemicals that are known to produce certain kinds of harm — cancer or birth defects — and any product that contains those must bear a warning with that specific wording to be sold in California. As @accalia wrote, it would cost more to have special packaging for California than to print the label on all the packages, and IIRC, if they sold something without the label for sale elsewhere to a distributor who sent some of it to California, the manufacturer would get in trouble, even though it never intended the item to be sold in California, and it was the distributor who screwed up.



  • I know of companies that now refuse to do business with customers in California, it's too complicated to be compliant with their laws and they prefer to just lose the business.



  • This is similar with contests in Quebec. The Quebec government has a lot of rules and regulations surrounding contests that sane places don't have, and most* companies don't want to deal with them, so they exclude Quebec from the contest.



  • @HardwareGeek said:

    It's not that other places don't also consider those substances dangerous; many of them are things that anyone would consider dangerous, at least in non-trace quantities, like lead. However, California has an official list of chemicals that are known to produce certain kinds of harm — cancer or birth defects — and any product that contains those must bear a warning with that specific wording to be sold in California.

    There already is such an official list. It's called the GHS hazard statement and it's applicable world wide. I'm not quite sure why California is such a special place.



  • @Weng said:

    it has zero emissions part of the time.

    Thanks for the explanation; I never understood that myself.

    However, IIRC to get the "zero-emission" label, not only does the engine have to not emit any exhaust, such as an electric motor, but nothing else can, either. For example, any residual solvents or volatile plasticizers in any plastic parts count. The "new-car smell" of the interior? That's chemicals being emitted; no "zero-emission" label for you.


  • BINNED

    @HardwareGeek said:

    The "new-car smell" of the interior? That's chemicals being emitted; no "zero-emission" label for you.

    This sounds similar to the UK smoking ban where they wanted to cover all bases, so rather than banning cigarettes/pipes/cigars etc. they went with any combustion reaction which is not 100% efficient. Which technically meant that the following were illegal in public places:

    • candles
    • gas ovens
    • metabolism

    This may well be apocryphal - I haven't read the wording of the law myself and it could also have been changed since


  • sockdevs

    @Jaloopa said:

    UK smoking ban

    Was targetted specifically at tobacco smoking



  • @Rhywden said:

    why California is such a special place

    Because it's California, the land of fruits and nuts.

    More serious answer: Proposition 65. It was an initiative in 1986.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Proposition_65_(1986)

    Proposition 65 regulates substances officially listed by California as having a 1 in 100,000 chance of causing cancer or birth defects or other reproductive harm in two ways. The first statutory requirement of Proposition 65 prohibits businesses from knowingly discharging listed substances into drinking water sources, or onto land where the substances can pass into drinking water sources. The second prohibits businesses from knowingly exposing individuals to listed substances without providing a clear and reasonable warning.

    That's where the warning labels come from.


  • BINNED

    “smoking” refers to smoking tobacco or anything which contains tobacco, or smoking any other substance, and
    smoking includes being in possession of lit tobacco or of anything lit
    which contains tobacco, or being in possession of any other lit substance in a form in which it could be smoked.

    I was obviously misinformed. I guess if you really wanted to twist it, smoking any other substance could be made to mean any combustion process, but I can't see any definition of smoking in the act



  • @Mikael_Svahnberg said:

    "This product contains a chemical known to the state of California to cause cancer and/or birth defects"

    We have similar stuff here. Last year some essential oils we buy started coming with a dangerous sign and a vague warning “may cause death”. It was accompanied by a leaflet titled “We will scare you, we will lie to you…” that explained that according to some EU regulation the products now fall into some “chemicals” category and have to carry that warning, in any quantity. Despite being pure extracts from the natural stuff which itself does not (e.g. orange essential oil is simply extract from orange peel made, IIRC, with water vapour).


  • BINNED

    @Bulb said:

    chemicals

    @Bulb said:

    Despite being pure extracts from the natural stuff

    Natural must be good, right? That's why I use arsenic as a cleaning product



  • @Bulb said:

    We have similar stuff here. Last year some essential oils we buy started coming with a dangerous sign and a vague warning “may cause death”. It was accompanied by a leaflet titled “We will scare you, we will lie to you…” that explained that according to some EU regulation the products now fall into some “chemicals” category and have to carry that warning, in any quantity. Despite being pure extracts from the natural stuff which itself does not (e.g. orange essential oil is simply extract from orange peel made, IIRC, with water vapour).

    Well, concentrated / distilled / purified stuff is usually quite a different beast than the original mix. Just take citron juice and concentrated citric acid - you'll notice the difference pretty soon.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @da_Doctah said:

    This chemical has been found in the state of California

    Just ask FoodBabeBimbo: she'll tell you that all chemicals are bad and there's no safe level of any of them.

    Shit, did you know they put almost 50% nitrogen in the air in airplanes?



  • @Jaloopa said:

    @Bulb said:
    Despite being pure extracts from the natural stuff

    Natural must be good, right? That's why I use arsenic as a cleaning product

    Nice Out of Context quote there. Try

    @Bulb said:

    Despite being pure extracts from ... stuff which ... does not

    Of course, that doesn't let @Bulb off the hook, as @Rhywden explained. But let's object to the right thing.


  • BINNED

    @CarrieVS said:

    let's object to the right thing

    That's a barrier to being a dickweed



  • @Jaloopa said:

    That's a barrier to being a dickweed

    But it's necessary for being a pedant.

    You know, thinking about it, the pertinent point here is that it's 'in any quantity' ... if that means 'any concentration', then it is a contradiction, because you could have it at the concentration that it is in the natural orange, just in solution with some innocuous solvent instead of in an orange, and it would need to be labelled.

    Edit: whatever essential oils dissolve in, I would hazard a guess water isn't the most efficient thing.



  • @CarrieVS said:

    Edit: whatever essential oils dissolve in, I would hazard a guess water isn't the most efficient thing.

    Depends on whether we're talking about fatty or etheric oils (e.g. terpenoids) and the length of the fatty acid of the triglyceride. :smile:



  • @Rhywden said:

    Well, concentrated / distilled / purified stuff is usually quite a different beast than the original mix. Just take citron juice and concentrated citric acid - you'll notice the difference pretty soon.

    Yes, they may be. But the extremely precise “may cause death” warning is absolutely catching the difference.

    Obviously anything is poisonous given sufficient quantity (example: oxygen is toxic at more than 50kPa partial pressure, tough it only gets really serious above 150kPa or so). It does not mean it can't be beneficial in lower quantities (and that is the point of such extracts), so blanket warning like that is just scaring people without telling them what is the actual thing to avoid.

    Some essential oils can also provoke allergy (citrus fruit extracts in particular can), but there does not seem to be any warning about that.

    So the problem is not so much the fact that there should be some warnings and instructions like the fact that there are, and it is appropriate by the regulation, generic uninformative warnings.

    @Rhywden said:

    Depends on whether we're talking about fatty or etheric oils (e.g. terpenoids) and the length of the fatty acid of the triglyceride.

    Etheric oils. Actually, it's just the aromatic compounds, they don't have to be ‘oils’ in any proper meaning of that word. As far as I can tell they are extracted by distillation using water, but the result is just the pure extract without any significant amount of solvent.



  • @lolwhat said:

    somewhere practically drowned some rats in this chemical

    And the rats suffocated and died. An autopsy found a growth in their brain.

    Hard to tell if that growth was from another experiment involving ooze that caused four turtles and a rat to turn humanoid, but killed all the other rats.



  • @Bulb said:

    Etheric oils. Actually, it's just the aromatic compounds, they don't have to be ‘oils’ in any proper meaning of that word. As far as I can tell they are extracted by distillation using water, but the result is just the pure extract without any significant amount of solvent.

    If we're talking about etheric oils then there won't be too many aromatic compounds. The fragrant stuff usually consists of terpenoids (which can contain aromatic functional groups but it's not required). And it's still oil, just not a fatty one.



  • But why not simply say "may cause cancer" then.

    Unless <gasp> blakey is right and they are poking fun at the californians...


  • sockdevs

    @Mikael_Svahnberg said:

    Unless <gasp> blakey is right and they are poking fun at the californians...

    i have no doubt that's part of it, although i think some of the wording is mandated by the legislation.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Jaloopa said:

    [with the UK smoking ban] they went with any combustion reaction which is not 100% efficient

    And the anti-smoking harridans are currently going after anything that bears a passing resemblance to "smoking a cigarette." Even though combustion (hence 'smoke') is not involved.


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