California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act(Proposition 65) and Tetrafluoroethylene
On May 1, 1997, California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) decided to list tetrafluoroethylene (TFE) as a chemical known to the state of California to cause cancer under California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, also known as Proposition 65 (Prop 65). TFE is an industrial chemical used as a feedstock to make certain fluoropolymers, and may be present in fluoropolymer processing operations as a result of release of residual TFE in resins or from degradation of resins at temperatures above 550EF (300EC). California’s listing of TFE, based on the National Toxicology Program (NTP) study reported in 1995, requires any person whose activities cause another person to be exposed to TFE to provide a clear and adequate warning of the exposure, beginning one year after the listing date (effective May 31, 1998).
The obligations under Prop 65 outlined above are required if the potential for exposure to TFE is above an "no significant risk level" (NSRL). An NSRL is a level of exposure to a listed chemical which the state has determined poses no significant risk of causing cancer. At this time, the state has not set an NSRL for TFE.
The warning requirements under Prop 65:
• Apply to businesses with 10 or more employees
• Cover all routes of potential exposure, including workplace exposure, consumer
exposure via the use of products and public exposures via environmental releases
• Require facilities responsible for environmental exposure to post warning signs around
the facility perimeter as well as through newspaper advertising and other means of
general public communication
• Require that persons who sell products containing TFE provide warnings to
customers and users
• Require that manufacturers assess potential human exposure from the ultimate
disposal of the product containing TFE
Fluoropolymer processors in California should evaluate their operations and assure that a warning is given if required. The failure to provide the warning required by Prop 65 subjects the seller or facility operator to government enforcement or private action. Under the "bounty hunter" provision, lawsuits can be brought by private citizens and may result in monetary awards of up to $5000 per violation to the person who successfully pursues the case.
Additional information regarding the warning requirements for TFE exposure under Prop 65 can be obtained from your fluoropolymer resin supplier or The Society of the Plastics Industry.