The lever thing that connects the toilet handle to the chain on flap broke.1 No big deal, I can purchase a new one and replace it myself. I go to the hardware store, where there are a plethora of such things. They all have a label that reads:

WARNING: This product contains a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm.

It doesn't say which chemical. The "and" and "or" groupings seem rather strange (or I may be reading this too literally). I don't think it cause cancer and birth defects. To my knowledge, birth defects only happen at birth, or perhaps between inception and birth, never actually thought about it before. Still I've never heard of retroactive birth defects. Perhaps I'm overanalyzing.

Not only doesn't it mention which chemicals are suspect, it doesn't say weather the installer or the flusher should be concerned, if the exposure level. If I have to install 300 of these things a day to be concerned, I think I'm okay. If I have to flush 847,231,596 times a year, I'm probably safe, too.

So, what's the origin of this warning. It turns out it was a law passed by voter initiative (and almost every reference I found to reasons this warning is post uses that or a similar phrase, which is amusing in and of itself). If you really care, wikipedia has a nice article with many links at the end.

I did learn that the soft drink companies changed the formula for the caramel coloring so they wouldn't have to put the label on their products, even though one had to drink over 1000 cans a day to be affected.

I think the label mostly is there so the legal departments can check off another box on their see, you can't sue me, checklists.


  1. The check engine light on the camry (code says cam timing is out of spec or some such thing), came on, the post the holds the gate in the fence came loose, a spring on the garage door broke, and I pulled a shoulder muscle. So, Why should not the toilet lever thing also brake? ↩