Six 60-day notices of violation were recently issued for hexavalent chromium detected in leather goods. The notices serve as warnings of the intent to start legal proceedings, that may end up in California Courts or settle out of court, depending on the products and chemicals involved, and the noticing Prop 65 enforcer.
Hexavalent chromium (Cr (VI)) was listed in 1987 under California Proposition 65 (Prop 65) as a toxic chemical that causes birth defects and other reproductive problems and cancer.
The six Notices of Violation were issued because of consumer exposure to Cr (VI) in a variety of leather products used in gloves for work and gardening, driving and fashion, golf and sports.
Humans can be exposed to Cr (VI) through hand to mouth contact after touching, wearing, or handling the leather products. Exposure can also be possible through dermal absorption. Health problems associated with exposure to Cr (VI) include allergies, throat, nasal, or respiratory irritation.
Cr (VI) is often unintentionally formed as an unwanted tanning process by-product in leather manufacturing, while in storage and shipment of leather products.
The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 or California Proposition 65 (Prop 65), became law in November 1986. The law is the basis why there is a Prop 65 list of approximately 900 harmful substances.
Businesses based in California are required to provide a Prop 65 Warning or a clear and reasonable warning on products that can expose anyone to a substance above its specified safe level.
Hexavalent chromium is typically used in machining metal parts in aircraft and anodizing other components that require chrome plating applications.
The presence of hexavalent chromium in leather processing is unusual. Hexavalent chromium was prominently featured in the 2000 movie “Erin Brockovich featuring Julia Roberts as the loudmouth Paralegal who found evidence of the chemical in the water of the desert town of Hinkley California.