By Brian Hinchion, Staff Reporter
Have you ever seen the sign “chemicals in this building may be known to cause cancer” usually posted outside of apartment complexes, restaurants and innocuous buildings throughout the state of California? I’ve always been pretty taken aback by the signs especially since you’re usually entering the building itself when you see it.
Trepidation, reluctance and fear are just some of the emotions and feelings I have felt upon seeing these warning notices. It’s quite jarring when you’re going to your dentist or grabbing a burger and that’s the last thing you see before sitting in the waiting room or chowing down on your food in that very building. Is this burger worth it or maybe I’ll pass on my standard teeth cleaning this time?
Many buildings at California State University Dominguez Hills have this sign posted including the Loker Student Union. So, what are the origins of these notices, why are they so prevalent around the state and what do CSUDH students think of them being on campus?
When asking who is responsible for these signs, looking in the mirror would be a good start. Well, not necessarily you but the California voters who approved ballot measure 65 in 1986.
According to the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment’s website, Proposition 65 or the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act was an initiative that aimed to protect California’s drinking water from carcinogenic chemicals. It also required businesses and buildings to notify citizens who come in contact with these establishments of carcinogenic chemicals on site. This law created hundreds of thousands of buildings around the state to bear the “this building may contain chemicals known to cause cancer” warnings.
Many establishments have this warning as a way to comply with the law or choose to put it up to avoid litigation from the state or private citizens. Because of the prevalence of these notices, the result is an ominous and serious warning that goes largely unnoticed to many Californians living their daily lives.
For students and faculty of CSUDH, those interviewed agreed that the warning signs displayed on buildings on campus made them feel uneasy but ultimately would not do much to change their habits on campus.
“It’s nerve-wracking first of all, I pass by this building all day,” Eduardo Ramos, a criminal justice major, when referring to the Loker Student Union warning sign said. “It shows we should be aware of our surroundings.”
Max Rosas who works in the Office of Educational Partnerships on campus said it is worrying to see the Prop 65 warning signs on campus buildings and it changes the way he will look at spaces on campus. But both agreed these signs will not do much to alter how they navigate CSUDH.
The Prop 65 warning notifications aim to let people know possible harmful chemicals they may come across each day but also can trivialize the notices themselves when they are so common. If we see them constantly in the places we work, where we go to school and where we live it could downplay how serious we take the warnings in general.