June 3, 2014 – SACRAMENTO, CA – Representatives from the North American Home Furnishings Association (NAHFA) and the American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA) met with officials
from the California Office of Environment and Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) May 19 to discuss Proposition 65 product labeling challenges within the home furnishings industry.
“AHFA and NAHFA have been working with California officials, legal experts and our respective member companies on Prop 65 issues for more than a year,” notes AHFA CEO Andy Counts. “Our two associations have been in regular, sometimes weekly, conversations about best practices for our member constituencies.”
During the May 19 meeting, the parties discussed the possibility of a “general retail warning” that could appear in California stores to meet Prop 65 requirements. The law requires stores to warn consumers when a product contains a chemical “known to the State of California to cause cancer or birth defects or other reproductive harm.” There are more than 800 such chemicals on the Prop 65 list, and more are added every year. The consumer warning must be “clear and reasonable” and be available to consumers prior to exposure – in other words, prior to purchase.
A few industries have been successful with “general retail warnings.” For example, Starbucks posts a Prop 65 warning for acrylamide on the doors of retail establishments or at the sugar/creamer station, rather than on every coffee cup. But acrylamide is a chemical that occurs naturally in the process of roasting coffee beans – so it is present in all coffee. The furniture industry, on the other hand, uses chemicals that may be present in some products but not in others within a single retail environment.
“A general retail warning would help solve our industry’s challenge of notifying consumers about the presence of a particular chemical in some products,” notes Bill Perdue, AHFA’s vice president of regulatory affairs, who attended the Sacramento meeting on AHFA’s behalf. “But a warning on a furniture store door would not necessarily be product-specific.”
Therefore, to augment the general warning, the two associations discussed the possibility of language that might appear on a purchase receipt. Receipts for furniture purchases are generally retained by the customer for warranty purposes, unlike hangtags or other point of purchase materials, which are often discarded after delivery.
“Working with AHFA in these talks and meetings with OEHHA is important,” says NAHFA CEO Sharron Bradley. “I’m encouraged by our progress and hopeful that OEHHA will continue to be receptive.”