Library health warning to be removed

Angela Salinas / The Collegian

A warning message displayed on the entrance of the Henry Madden Library that warns about the building containing chemicals that could cause cancer and reproductive harm will be taken off.

“It was mistakenly placed there by the architect or contractor,” said Lisa Kao, administrator for environmental health and safety at Fresno State. She confirmed there have been discussions for its removal from the building.

The Henry Madden Library began its demolition process in August of 2006 in preparation for the renovation and expansion that was completed in early 2009.

Kao said the reason for the warning sign’s unnecessary placement is because such a warning is usually applicable by law. None of the other buildings on campus display this sign, she said.

According to section 25249.6 of the California Health and Safety Code, “no person in the course of doing business shall knowingly and intentionally expose any individual to a chemical known to the state to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity without first giving clear and reasonable warning to such individual.”

These required notifications were established after the enactment of California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, or Proposition 65.

When asked the reason why such a warning message would even be needed for the building, David Tyckoson, associate dean of the library, said it may be because of the storage of chemicals custodians use for cleaning which may be potentially hazardous.

“When you’re studying, you aren’t going to be exposed to [chemicals],” said Tyckoson, who stressed that custodians clean with such chemicals when students and staff are not occupying the building.

“I don’t want anyone to be scared to use the library,” said Tyckoson.

The reason for Fresno State’s exemption to display a warning sign is because of its status as a state agency and for its operation of a public water system, which is a specified exemption from Proposition 65.

“I’m sure that [the contractors are] involved with constructing and finishing many buildings for a myriad of clients for which this requirement would normally be applicable, and therefore assumed that it was required for our building as well,” said Kao.

Other exemptions from having to display a warning sign as outlined in Prop 65 includes businesses with nine or fewer employees and exposure that would not pose significant risks for cancer to develop. According to the California Office of the Attorney General, “exposure is calculated to result in not more than one excess case of cancer in 100,000 individuals exposed over a 70-year lifetime.”

The amount of exposure that produces no observable reproductive effects is also outlined within the exemptions. “The level of exposure must be below the ‘no observable effect level (NOEL),’ divided by a 1,000-fold safety or uncertainty factor,” states the Office of the Attorney General. “The ‘no observable effect level’ is the highest dose level which has not been associated with an observable adverse reproductive or developmental effect.”

Finally, if businesses or establishments can demonstrate that no significant amount of listed chemicals reaches the drinking water source, they too are exempt.