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As a seller on Amazon, various laws and regulations govern your sales on the platform. One of those laws is Proposition 65, the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement of 1986. Proposition 65 is a California law that requires businesses to warn consumers about potential exposure to harmful chemicals, especially chemicals that can cause cancer, birth defects, or reproductive harm. The California Attorney General’s Office enforces it. 

If you sell products on Amazon and your products may be shipped to a buyer in California, you are subject to Prop 65.  Failing to comply with this law can mean fines, legal action, and seller account suspensions. It’s essential to understand the requirements and be compliant, and in this post, we’ll walk you through the basics to get started. Remember, it is always best to speak with a lawyer if you need specific help or clarification. This blog post is an explanation of the law, not legal advice. 

Overview & Implications of Prop 65

Proposition 65 requires businesses and sellers to warn their buyers about exposure to potentially harmful chemicals. It also prevents companies from knowingly putting these chemicals into drinking water. The current list of chemicals that need warnings under Prop 65 has over 900 chemicals. You can see a current list of chemicals at any time on the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment website. There is also an email list you can sign up for to get alerts any time the list is updated. 

As an Amazon Seller, you are responsible for compliance with Proposition 65. Amazon updated their seller agreement in 2022 after a prop 65 lawsuit, Lee v Amazon. To sell on Amazon, you must accept all liability in prop 65 inquiries and hold Amazon blameless in any investigations. The law states that the fine is paid per violation per day, so Amazon immediately freezes disbursements when there is an active inquiry. We’ve seen sellers pay over $10k to get access back. 

Compliance Tips and Best Practices

As an Amazon seller, keeping track of your business’s financials, sales patterns, and customer demographics can help you understand your sales data better and make informed decisions. Using software can help you manage your financials and understand your profits and losses. It can also help you track sales taxes for the different states you sell in, including California, which is essential for complying with Proposition 65.

Selling on Amazon means that you need to provide Prop 65 warnings if your product includes any of the 900+ chemicals listed on the OEHHA website. There are four steps you need to take to comply with the law: 

  1. Review the list of chemicals provided by the California OEHHA regularly. It is updated to include chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm. If your products may contain any of the listed chemicals you should have them independently tested for potential exposure. 
  2. Provide clear and reasonable warnings. The warning has to clearly state that the product can expose consumers to one or more of the listed chemicals. It also has to name at least one chemical the consumer could be exposed to, describe the product or element of the product that could cause exposure, and explain how to avoid exposure. Some products may cause exposure if popped or cut open. If yours is one of those, you should clarify that in the warning. 
  3. Update your listing on Amazon. You can add a prop 65 warning directly on the listing using Amazon’s internal system. You’ll need to include the proposition 65 warning type and relevant chemical names. Add the same warning to the product packaging that is in the Amazon description.
  4. Consult with a lawyer if you’re unsure how to comply with Proposition 65. A lawyer can review your products and test results to help determine if there are any chemicals on the list present. They can also help you write your warnings to be clear, reasonable, and compliant. We recommend our partners at SellersBasics for legal representation, and you can go to their website for more information:

Additionally, tracking your sales patterns and customer demographics can help you determine which products are selling well in which states and who your target audience is. Knowing this information can help you optimize your listings, adjust your pricing strategy, and make other business decisions that can increase your profits.

Following these four steps, you can comply with proposition 65 and protect your business from potential legal issues. 

Proposition 65 will continue to be a vital regulation to comply with as you grow your business on Amazon. Be sure to have regular testing done on your products, keep good records of your compliance efforts, and consult with a lawyer if you have specific questions. A violation could lead to heavy fines, frozen product listings, and even a suspended seller account under Amazon’s current policies. Use the steps in this post and the Legion’s detailed guide to navigating Prop 65 to help make sure you’re in compliance and protect your business from potential legal issues.

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