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When buying bike tools from online stores, it is in general not possible to see the actual box that would be shipped, and hence it's not possible to determine whether the notorious California Proposition 65 warning appears (and that's before factoring in that the boxes used for other than California may omit that warning).

One of the nicer, and more expensive, brands is of course Park Tool. Are Park Tool products free of the P65 warnings? In other words, does the reputation and price buy this peace of mind?

I am well aware that this warning gets listed so often to the point of being almost pointless, but still: given two equivalent tools, I'd rather buy the safer one and use it with bare hands, than buy the riskier one and handle it always with gloves, and keep it and use it outdoors.

The particular product I'm after at this time is the Park Tool CM-5.3 Cyclone Bicycle Chain Scrubber, but online stores are inconsistent. Most do not say that the warning appears on the box, but some do, hence the question.

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    It's full of solvent (which presumably is not actually inside the box, so I'm not sure why the product box matters). Wouldn't you want to use gloves in any case? – Greg Hewgill Apr 23 at 3:40
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    The "safer" one isn't necessarily the one without a P65 warning; P65 warnings have not much to do with safety/risks. – Armand Apr 23 at 3:54
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    What is this P65 supposed to be? – Vladimir F Apr 23 at 7:49
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    Why focus on Park Tool? they are just one brand. Ask them directly, and bring here their answer. – EarlGrey Apr 23 at 15:11
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    I’m voting to close this question because asks for a minute detail of product specifications that may change. What is more, it has no relevance to cycling. (One may ask the same about a dinner plate or an evening gown.) – gschenk Apr 23 at 21:35
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Amazon seems to think so. Their US product page for the device says: "WARNING: California’s Proposition 65." (I'm not sure if that notice appears for all customers or just those in California). However, the Park Tool CB-4 chain cleaner solvent "does not contain any Proposition 65 chemicals," according to the data sheet.

But I, personally, would use it regardless, and do so. It's an innocuous plastic item that doesn't come remotely near your food, not markedly different from the plastics you touch every day without confirming whether they contain P65 listed chemicals. Do your handlebars (some grips contain lead) or shifters contain P65 chemicals? Do you inhale exhaust fumes while cycling? Do you eat baked, fried, or roasted foods? Touching the handle on a chain scrubber is just so far down my list of worries compared to all the other risks in the world.

Like Greg Hewgill said, I use gloves anyway with my Park Tool CM-5.3 Cyclone Bicycle Chain Scrubber, because chain cleaning is a bit messy, and I'd rather wear gloves than scrub muck off my hands later.

then the absence of the P65 warning is a mark of quality

I would not assume that at all. The no-name clothing manufacturer may have never heard of Prop 65, and the importer and retailer may have no idea whether or not the good should have a P65 warning. The presence of absence of the warning is really not correlated with risk of harm. Worrying about the risk of brief touches of a plastic item on an occasional basis is to hyper-focus on small details instead of broad environmental risks. And there's absolutely nothing to say that another brand of chain scrubber won't contain P65-listed chemicals but simply not have the warning. As that Wirecutter article notes, the fact the product comes with a Prop 65 warning at least means whoever put it there has at least minimal knowledge of product safely law; the absence of a label could either denote the absence of listed chemicals or the absence of a manufacturer who cares at all:

Of course, you may be in less danger with a clearly labeled item than you would be with unlabeled products, even if the overlabeling phenomenon leads to some false positives. Companies that are willing to comply with the law by warning buyers are probably providing safer goods than unknown manufacturers from third-party sellers overseas, since the latter may not be following federal guidelines for safety for things like lead paint or cosmetics additives.

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  • Interesting. The fist-sized arm, along with the rubber sealing the cover, suggested that each cleaning session could be done with bare hands. Since putting on gloves is necessary anyway, I see that the P65 warning for the plastic is indeed less of a concern. The solvent is another issue. – Sam Apr 24 at 14:07
  • It certainly can be done with bare hands, and the part where you're using the scrubber itself is pretty clean (the solvent can drip a little), but I just usually slap on a pair of latex gloves because I have them handy and will invariably get my hands dirty somewhere in the process of pouring solvent, chain cleaning, lubing, cleaning out the chain scrubber, and other bike cleaning I'm doing at the same time. – Zach Lipton Apr 24 at 18:11
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Re: "Is the (absence of a) P65 warning a mark of quality?"

There are some mistaken assumptions here:

  1. [Chemicals on the P65 list are always harmful.] Certainly, substances like lead can be harmful if ingested, but we rarely ingest e.g. spokes or headsets or cables. The P65 list has no information on the level or type of risk of its various items, and even has included items like coffee!
  2. [Most substances known to cause harm are on the P65 list.] There are trillions of substances that might cause harm in certain circumstances; almost none have been tested. There is no plan to organize testing for the P65 list. Also, most things thought to cause cancer and/or reproductive harm are not on the list (e.g. obesity - should ice cream be on the list?) so the list distracts people's attention away from the real hazards in life.
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  • You're adding valuable information, but you're answering two questions, both different from the one asked. 1. The point of the P65 warnings is to enable individual consumers to make independent decisions. Certainly, spokes are unlikely to be tasty, but the warning would enable the consumer to avoid touching, and perhaps even buying, a product labeled with the P65 warning. – Sam Apr 23 at 15:34
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    Yes. My point is that the actual hazards (as determined by frequency and magnitude) are typically not to be found on the P65 list, so it serves mostly to divert attention from the actual hazards. Sort of like the old story about the person who dropped their keys down the street but was looking for them under the streetlight because the light was better there :) I edited the first part to clarify – Armand Apr 23 at 15:50
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    You’ve never eaten a headset before?!? When people say “my headset is crunchy” they’re obviously referring to its mouthfeel... – MaplePanda Apr 23 at 18:54
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    Having changed a derailleur cable while eating a sandwich, I might have been interested to know just how bad any grease was - but I wouldn't have cared about the steel cable or tools. Of course road grime has all sorts of nasties in it, and may well be far worse than almost anything you'd buy in a bike shop – Chris H Apr 23 at 19:27
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    @ChrisH One of the nice things about the grease I use (Super Lube) is that it is incidental contact food-safe certified. I'm tempted to actually try eating a bit sometime. – MaplePanda Apr 24 at 5:13
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This is the part of the CM-5.3's label that is visible from the outside of the packaging (as bought in Germany on Amazon - possibly an European or international version given the languages):

CM-5.3 label

It does indeed mention P65. I can confirm that you should wear gloves anyways when using the CM-5.3, because it is a very messy process, but gets the chain sparkly clean.

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  • 1/4 Thanks for posting the picture. I had seen it and meant to post myself an answer like yours. I broke a strict rule I had of not buying any P65 products, and I bought it anyway. I did because the tool seems necessary (I feel that half my effort is going to battling the transmission, but that could just be being out of shape after stopping cycling during winter—is knowing which one it is an excuse to splurging on a power meter?), .. – Sam May 12 at 8:46
  • 2/4 .. and because I have no confidence that the no-name brands do not use something even more nefarious than Park Tools, but they just don't worry about California's penalties of omitting to add a warning. – Sam May 12 at 8:46
  • 3/4 It's nice that a multi-national like PT did not conceal the warning from you or me (Canada) by using distinct packaging for California or the US. But it's disturbing that even Park Tools finds it hard to source so few components (plastic, metal, foam) none of which carries itself the warning. When buying a dishwasher from a major brand, .. – Sam May 12 at 8:46
  • 4/4 .. I appreciate that sourcing a thousand components eventually incurs the warning, which must be carried outside the washer (and make one wonder whether the material in question will end up on the dinner plates—in trace amounts). This tool is not connected to eating, but it also has very few components. – Sam May 12 at 8:47
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    Many companies don't want to spend the effort in finding out whether they need the P65 warning, so they just slap it on every product just to be sure, and because customers usually don't care anyways. So, the warning on the CM-5.3 might actually be completely unnecessary. The CM-5.3 doesn't emit the typical obnoxious smells some toxic plastics produce, and at least for me the material looks and feels very similar to the one used in food containers. Therefore, I wouldn't be surprised if the warning is completely superfluous and, at least the casing, was food-safe if clean... – Erlkoenig May 12 at 10:09

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