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Only in California? A cancer warning on my new coffee mug

I recently bought a coffee mug at a school fundraiser. It's one of those cheap white ones made in China and decorated here, often sold as souvenirs. I have a bunch of them from various places and events. However, this one has a sticker that says: "California Law Requires This Warning. This product contains a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer, birth defects other reproductive harm." If this one does, then presumably all the others do as well. Should I care? It's probably silly, but I've been drinking coffee out of a glass mug since I noticed this sticker -- despite the fact that I've been using other white mugs from China for almost twenty years. One more thing to worry about?

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  1. I wonder specifically what chemical they are talking about. It is definitely not lead, that is for sure. First, California has a very strict code on lead. Second, cancer is probably last thing you need to worry if it is lead exposure.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

      Lead, in various forms, is on the Prop 65 list (see link in another post). But just because the product has the warning, it does not mean that you will be exposed to it. Lead in the solder of an appliance is enough to require the warning, even if there is little likelihood that you will ever touch that solder, much less ingest it.

    2. As a native Californian, I can certainly say that practically everything in California seems to be labeled as possibly causing cancer. I currently live in Chicago, and I don't see these labels here. I wouldn't worry about it too much.

      1. I bought cute little ceramic shot glasses at the San Diego airport as souvenirs for my office, and they had the sticker on them. Hope it doesn't make me a bad person, but I took the stickers off and gave them out anyway.

        1. It could be lead based glaze on the mug. I bought this balsamic vinegar at Whole Foods only a couple months ago and I was just about to open it up when i looked at the back and it had that warning on it for lead in the glass container. I also have seen that sign at the dinnerware section of Target for lead in the glaze. I am already dumb don't need lead to make me dumber.

          6 Replies
          1. re: septocaine_queen

            Lead in glass is awesome. People pay big bucks for this. Really. That is how you get really high quality glass -- glass crystal.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lead_glass

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              If you are concerned about lead in glassware, Schott Zweisel is making Titanium crystal. The titanium makes for a very sturdy glass and they are as thin as some Baccarat. The price is better too. Did you know that with very thin lead crystal you can actually flex the glass? The lead softens the glass and that makes it flex and etch easily. That is why washing in a dishwasher is not recommended

              1. re: Candy

                Oh I didn't know that. The flexible thing. Nah, I just bought it up because lead in glassware (lead crystal) is actually something people seek for.

            2. re: septocaine_queen

              Ha! But I don't think in this case it's lead. I do wonder what chemical it is. I've seen clothes with the label, too. Not that one eats clothing.

              1. re: Glencora

                Edible underwear...so quickly forgotten.

                1. re: Veggo

                  The low-cal type that doesn't stay on the hips?!

            3. A good many of those souvenir mugs do contain lead. But there are a large number of other chemicals that require Prop. 65 warning labels.
              http://oehha.ca.gov/prop65/prop65_lis...
              In my own home, I check to make sure the mugs are certified as microwave safe. If that information isn't on the bottom of the cup, I simply put about two ounces of water in the cup and nuke it for a minute or two. Just long enough for the water to boil. If the cup gets hot (some get so hot I can't remove them from the microwave without a pot holder) I simply dispose of the cup. Or use it as a pencil holder on my desk.

              2 Replies
              1. re: todao

                What's the theory behind making sure it's microwave safe? I have these bowls I often heat in the microwave and they get really hot (more so than my other bowls); should I not be microwaving them for some reason?

                1. re: emily

                  If the bowl gets hot by itself in the microwave, it should not be used there. The classic case is melamine bowls. On the other hand if the bowl gets hot because the contents are hot, that shouldn't be any more of a problem than if the bowl gets hot when you pour boiling water into it.

              2. The parking garage at my office has a Prop 65 warning. They're so ubiquitous that they've become meaningless.

                My guess would be that the paint on the mug has a listed substance in it. Assuming that only the outside is decorated, you probably have nothing to worry about. For that matter, you probably have nothing to worry about anyway.

                1 Reply
                1. re: alanbarnes

                  That makes sense. I'll refrain from licking the outside of the mug.

                2. Okay, I don't live in California so I don't see all the Prop65 warnings that you're obviously inundated with ... I too would start to find them meaningless. But really, how much does one have to read about tainted food and products (lead in the paint of childrens' toys, melamine in children's milk and animal food) originating from China before you maybe think twice about putting that mug to your lips ... I would have no comfort that the lead, or whatever it is you're being warned about, was limited to the outside decoration ... but hey, that's just me.