Human exposure to lead is one of the most serious environmental health threats today. Lead causes a variety of adverse health effects and is particularly harmful to children. Unfortunately, the current regulation of lead exposures is fragmented and often unsuccessful. California's Proposition 65, a right-to-know initiative, however, has achieved some noteworthy successes in reducing public exposures to lead. Proposition 65 has spurred faster and more significant lead reductions than federal law by prompting companies to reformulate products and change their manufacturing processes. This Article first discusses the hazards and uses of lead. The author next describes several instances that demonstrate how Proposition 65 has stimulated the development of new technologies and pollution prevention measures to reduce lead exposures. The author then examines why Proposition 65 has been more effective than comparable federal regulations. To conclude, the author notes that a simple, multimedia, self-executing statute like Proposition 65 can be more powerful than a host of complex regulatory programs in achieving actual reductions of pollutants in our environment.
29 ELR 10581