Cancer, birth defect warning labels in Ogio backpacks sold on campus


Among the growing list of products linked to causing cancer and other diseases, some Central Michigan University students might be overlooking one product they use frequently: backpacks.

The Ogio backpack brand, which produces backpacks and other products, is the top seller at the CMU Bookstore. Ogio carries labels that warn consumers of cancer, reproductive harm or birth-defect- causing chemicals contained in their products.

The label reads: "California Proposition 65. Warning: This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm."

In California, the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 was made law to inform people about exposure to chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects and reproductive problems.

Because of the act, Ogio and other businesses selling products containing harmful chemicals in California are required to label products containing chemicals on the Proposition 65 list.

The small labels are stitched on a seam inside backpacks and are not obvious to those not looking for this label.

However, CMU Bookstore Director Barry Waters said in an email the labels are visible enough. He also advised students to look at research and to make their own choices on what to buy.

"California has very rigid reporting requirements that appear to cover all products made with fabric, leather, vinyl, foam, synthetic and non-woven material," Waters said. "The labels cover the possible existence of trace amounts of more than 850 chemicals".

Trenton senior Steven Ritthaler said he would be wary if his backpack included a warning label.

"(I would care if it affected my health), but, at the same time, eating fast food affects your health, driving over the speed limit affects your health," Ritthaler said. "I guess I would have to look into it."

However, not all students agree the labels are cause for serious concern.

Saginaw sophomore Isis Simpson-Mersha said if a brand she liked had cancer warning labels on its products, she would still purchase their products.

"Even if I knew and I liked that brand, I don't think I would stop buying it, "Simpson-Mersha said, though she noted there are always other products to buy instead.


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